Album Review: “The Physical World” by Death From Above 1979


Death From Above 1979 is finally back after 10 years since the release of their debut album You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. This Toronto garage band is a duo consisting of Jesse F. Keeler from MSTRKRFT on bass, synth, and backing vocals, and Sebastian Grainger on lead vocals and drums. The band officially broke up in 2006, but, the reunion on February 4, 2011 was followed by an update on the band’s official website; DFA 1979 was releaseing a new album.

The new album  The Physical World dropped September 9, 2014. But after 10 years you would think that the band would sound completely different? Well, thankfully, that’s not the case. Fans of the band will recognize the familiar sound of fuzz and overdrive while new listeners will enjoy it for the same reason. This band has a unique sound of garage punk, stoner rock, and dance punk all squeezed from two people. In 2004 this sound was a rare occurrence, but in 2014 it still has it’s place among as a peculiar band in the garage scene.

When I first listened to the album I started with song number two on the album “Right On, Frankenstein!” The first thing that came to my mind was that the band’s sound is really similar and it’s fantastic. After 10 years I wouldn’t be surprised, or even upset, if the band had a major change in their style. But the fact that they don’t is why I love this album. Just like Grainger says in the song “It’s the same old song / Just a different tune.” The lyrics may be a bit more tame (I’ll be getting into that later) than their debut album, but the sound I fell in love with is still there. This album is more of that feeling I got when I first heard the band 5 years ago.

The fact that this band only consist of two member, a bassist/keyboardist and drummer, is fascinating to me. The bass has so much overdrive that it sounds like it was turned up to 11 and then kept going after that. For a few years I thought that it was just a standard electric guitar. When a friend told me that there was only a bassist and no lead guitarist I was all the more impressed with the Toronto rockers. Then there is the sound of wheezing and screechy keyboard sounds that actually complement the band really well. Listening to the album’s title track is where I heard the keyboards return to be very prominent. As the song went on the sound of the keyboard fell apart just as the lyrics in the song did.

I mentioned earlier in the article that the lyrics in this album were a bit more “tame” than in the last. Well, I use that term quite loosely. There may not be anything as strange as the lyrics of “Black History Month” but the band hasn’t lost it’s edge. One of my favorite songs on the album is “White Is Red” but because it was a ballad-esque song. Those who are fans of DFA 1979 will find that labeling of a “ballad song” to be out of place, but Grainger made it work. The song tells an interesting story. Then there is the song “Virgins” which is full of enough teenage angst to make it seem like an episode of Degrassi. Lyrically, the two songs are a perfect match for each other.

Death From Above 1979’s new album is fantastic for those who are listening to the band’s last album and are yearning for more of the familiar greatness. It’s also perfect for lovers of garage music and are looking for another gem to add to the list. This is probably one of my favorite albums of the year so expect to hear a lot more of it from me and possibly other DJs.

DJ Bluebomber hosts an Alt/Indie music show on Tuesdays from 7-8 PM pacific time. If you’re looking for a wide range of music from indie synth pop, to garage rock, to various metal then tune in.

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