19 October 2014

Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

Hipster rock - this is a term that has been levelled at a few bands over the years, they have that reek of scene kids that it just drips with pretentious posing and lame ass music.  This is something that was once placed at the feet of this band by a few people I know; the band in question is Death From Above 1979.  Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and for two short years they were one of the most named dropped bands on the planet, with The White Stripes, Mantar (well for me anyway) and later The Black Keys they are famous for being a duo that brought the noise with them.  Rave kids CSS made a song having sex whilst listening to their music, their logo of their faces with elephant trunks was stickers on lampposts around the world and then....they split up.  This was down to the classic musical differences and in 2006 the band closed the doors for what was supposed to be the last time.  But in 2011, the message was put out that the band were back together and an album would be coming, along the way there has been a few more issues but true to their words we now have a new album.  I will be honest I have little to no really recollection of their first album, I know I have heard it as it was played at many parties and nights out for a while; but their style just sort of drifted passed me by.  Well, let’s see if this second album does anything to change this opinion.

Starting the album is "Cheap Talk" and immediately the band come out of the blocks with their collective pants on fire.  The mixture of punk rock feeling and an almost disco sense of timing, it is a different version of the formula that has been took by The Black Keys with just a little less blues. It has a hook in the chorus that will sink into your brain and keep you humming it along all day.  For hipster music, it is actually very good.  Following on comes the track "Right On, Frankenstein!” and there is no dip in either energy or standards, this is an incredible song with various images of the undead to describe the unfulfilled life.  The riff and rolling drum beat at the beginning brings out a rock & roll riff that make is very exciting and energetic, just making me scratch my head as to why I did not check out their stuff earlier.  The band might slow down the speed with "Virgins" but they do not stop the rock at all; in fact if anything they just increase the volume.  This song about the dull and dissatisfaction of school life boredom is well known to anyone who has (or currently suffering) that time of their life in the Western world (it might be a bundle of joy for other cultures for all I know).

"Always On" is next and the bass is gives one of the best impressions of a full guitar on this song, it just shreds all over the song and is helped only by the beast of a drummer pounding the riff to its eventual punk explosion.  It is similar to other songs of this genre and is reminiscent of the work done by Royal Blood.  Maybe this band was one of their influences, as it has an undeniable similar vibe (especially on this song).  "Crystal Ball" keeps up the punk ethics, but introduces a dance beat to the proceedings and changing the direction of the record straight away.  It is a stomping song which has so much energy without letting the standard slip up.  "White Is Red" on the other hand does not fare as well; the ball of energy which has been driving the band along seems to have been spent on this song.  The riff is as interesting in parts and the performance is still good, but the finished product just feels chunky and incomplete.  The first chink in the armour for this album then.  Next is "Trainwreck 1979" which was the first single to be release before the album came out.  It reminds me more of The Black Keys in style, it is more focused on the dance side of the band and the punk has been put to the side for the moment.  It is by no means a bad song and to be honest it is an obvious single, but there are so many songs on here which would have been to represent this album without being the obvious pick.

"Nothin' Left" brings the energy back up to the record, you have the band pulling out the stops and they also have a slight 80's styling to the chorus.  It has all the potential to be the surprise track of the album for a lot of people.  It does not have that immediate factor about, but on repeat listenings it just keeps getting better.  "Government Trash" is the next song and the second one to have been released as a single, this song is a shouty punk rock anthem against the government of their area.  This is slightly ironic, as they acknowledge in the thank you section of the album artwork that the album was made with financial support from Department of Canadian Heritage.  The song itself is fast and furious and full of bile, a bit like all politicians that I have met.  The penultimate track is called "Gemini" and it has something strange about it to be honest, it is not exactly the most accessible of songs on the album (not that they are complicated in anyway, it is punk for fuck sake), it is another slow burner that just gets better with further listens; this is despites my initial reaction of bemusement to the song on the first couple of listens.  Ending the album is "The Physical World" which starts with some bass work which sounds like it has been made on a ZX Spectrum, the bass and drums crash in to make their doom entrance to the proceedings, the general feeling of evil never really dissipates from the track and it feel incredibly claustrophobic and intense.  It might not be my favourite track of the album, but at least it goes out with a bang.

I am incredibly impressed by this album for it has given me a genuine surprise; I was really expecting to hate it and had all my hipster comments ready and waiting.  It does have a couple of tracks which drag the quality down slight if I am honest, but the top draw indie punk makes up for any short comings on a couple of tracks.  It is a fun release that does not have a great weight of expectation on it (at least from me) and it is also one of the best rock duo releases of 2014 (just being the mighty Mantar (cleverly linked here)) and another great record for to have been released this year.  Of course by me liking it, it will probably bomb out of existence; but what an album.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Cheap Talk

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Death From Above 1979 website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link for you

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