Death From Above 1979 The Physical World
As good as their 2004 debut album might have been, Toronto duo Death From Above 1979’s legend was better. Unleash one indie-essential disc of punishing dance-noise, then disappear forever. Until Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler did what they vowed they wouldn’t, reuniting for some shows and, now, a second record 10 years after the first. Whatever the financial benefits of being back out there, it puts their mythology at risk, and the results are somewhat mixed.
On the plus side, The Physical World is no simple You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine replica, sounding less brutal and less synthy on the whole. Opening songs “Cheap Talk” and “Right on, Frankenstein!” flow from a place near Trail of Dead’s prog-punk pool, and “Virgins” and “Trainwreck 1979” deliver foot-stompier hooks than the band previously attempted. On the downside, the back half feels largely forgettable, which couldn’t be said of a minute of Machine, and borderline ballad “White Is Red” strays close to mainstream-rock radio territory, fighting words to hardcore fans.
Ultimately, The Physical World plays like the Back to the Future sequel we could largely live without, but hardly the Star Wars fiasco we wish had never happened.