ALBUM REVIEW: Death From Above 1979 ‘The Physical World’


Rock duos are everywhere. It’s like an invasion. A fuzzy, groove filled invasion…World War two turned up to eleven. It would be easy to right off the influx of these acts in one full sweep, I mean how different can they all be? Just put down ‘Jack White worshippers’ and be done with it right? Wrong.

Ten years ago Death From Above 1979 released their now legendary debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine to critical acclaim. They dominated playlists, soundtracked house parties, kick started the re-birth of indie disco and then…disappeared. Members Sebastien Grainger and Jessie F. Keeler went their separate ways and that was that, until 2011 and a blog post:

So why not say yes? Why not say yes to Coachella? Why not say yes to playing the music we designed to be an undeniable source of power? Jesse and I have decided that what we can do together should not be denied. Together again, as was always the intention, as a collaboration. The collision of two different worlds.

It’s been three long years since that announcement but it’s here. The follow up to that iconic album is here. The Physical World has a lot to live up to. Granted it’s no Chinese Democracy, but two records in 10 years isn’t exactly a breakneck pace to be releasing music. So does it deliver?

‘Cheap Talk’ silences any lingering doubts about the reunion in just over three minutes. It’s all still there, the energy, the atmosphere and the unmistakable feeling that you’re listening to something special. As if to address the hype, Grainger croons “What he said, what she said, it doesn’t really matter in the end”.

‘Right on, Frankenstein!’ ups the tempo before crashing back down to earth with a riff guaranteed to start a few riots whilst ‘Virgins’ delivers a wall of noise so loud Royal Blood will be able to hear it up on their newly purchased private jet. So far so deafening, until ‘White is Red’ that is, a mid-album breathing point that cruises past like a questionable character in the red light district…but with more style.

‘Trainwreck 1979’ pulses with the power of disco fever and reaffirms DFA 1979’s status as the ultimate house party band before crashing us into ‘Nothin’ Left’ and the pure fury of ‘Government Trash’, a highlight and the heaviest track this duo have laid their name to.

At just 35 minutes long, its all over far too soon. The poptastic ‘Gemini’ and album closer (and highlight) ‘The Physical World’ with its glitch filled intro and metal-tastic final riff come around all too quickly. Ten years of waiting and over oh so soon? Say it ain’t so.

The Physical World is an album that will make a lasting impression. Matching (and whisper it, at times surpassing) the 2004 debut was an almighty task, especially after a 10 year hiatus. So as we’re sat in the trenches, rock duos descending all around us, don’t hideaway. Get out on the battlefield and experience some of the most visceral and exciting music of 2014.

Worshippers of Jack White? Death From Above 1979 are a rock duo that have found a new religion.

Alex Jones
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Alex Jones

Alex Jones

Likes: Loud noises, Death From Above 1979 and Phillipe Coutinho Dislikes: Early mornings, London Grammar and the taxman