Death From Above 1979 – ‘Music 4 Lovers’ I Album Review

death from above 1979

Music 4 Lovers is out now on Universal Canada.

When a band announces a reunion and new album, it should be taken with a certain amount of caution. They break up for a reason after all, and often involving significant bad blood. Just because they get back together, it doesn’t mean they like each other. Expecting an outfit to replicate the same inspiration, energy and cutting edge as with their peak could lead to disappointment. Bands merely releasing an album to cash in a nostalgia factor or aiming to jump on a current trend and failing badly. Case in point being underwhelming efforts like ‘Fourth‘, ‘Zeitgeist‘ or ‘Indie Cindy‘. They may have their supporters but come on. Sometimes the past should be left in the past.

And then a band will return to take care of unfinished business. Death From Above 1979 stood out from the crowd in the early 2000s. As the many bands who followed in the wake of The Strokes fell away, it seemed to be those who took their nod from post-punk, modern garage blues bands or glammed up electronic pop dominated the landscape. Bassist Jesse Keeler and drummer/vocalist Sebastien Grainger released a sleazy, punk-funk banger in the guise of You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine. It set about huge critical praise, but trouble was afoot. Constant touring as an incendiary live act wore the two-piece out. Mounting tensions caused a split and they were no more. Their cult cemented in the meantime until a glorious return. The Physical World and Outrage! Is Now proved they could still provide the party but added new shades on each.

How does this measure up though? It has been stated it is essentially about love, but there are other elements at play here. ‘Modern Guy’ is a motor-powered number that comes charging out straight away with a truly infectious beat and crunchy bass tone. It contains much of the scorn and biting sarcasm we have associated with the band. Boasting about being hip and with it, while actually being completely clueless. Summed up by “Progress, not a promise/Devils laugh if you go too fast” and “Propaganda is getting to the grandmas”. By desperately trying to keep up to date with all trending on social media, you risk leaving important aspects of life behind. This message is repeated on ‘Totally Wiped Out’. A stomping disco-punk ballad about the need to constantly refresh and surf the net “until you are dumb”. The screeching guitar and scattershot drumming keep you hooked with a sense of fulfilment at the end. Unlike scrolling through endless headlines.

‘Free Animal’ is a familiar hark back to what most people would associate with their style. A pulsating beat, punchy drums and woozy vocals perfect to throw shapes to. Albeit with slightly less intensity from their earlier more feral days. Living up to expectation so far. The two-parter ‘N.Y.C Power Elite’ changes gears. Part I takes a light-hearted stab at the city dwellers who count themselves as important and pretty. Its alter-ego is altogether more downbeat, focusing on the pressure of living there. “It’s killing me just living in this city and this body.” Definitely more of a metallic edge to proceedings. A world driven by division and mistrust is shown in the likes of ‘Mean Streets’ and ‘Glass Houses’. The latter urges those with extremist views to recognise the similarities with us all, rather than the differences. The former begins as a beautiful piano segment where young male bravado like Robert De Niro is brought up. A sudden switch sees an aggressive thrash like breakdown. Perhaps being cocksure and arrogant can lead to raging against the world.

But the album is essentially about love and coming together. ‘One + One’ is a gorgeous piece of groovy joy. It was written as Grainger’s partner was pregnant as the album came together. You can sense the excitement about a family coming together and how they rely on one another. Especially on lines like “I need you/I can’t control it/Love is action”. ‘Love Letter’ is a point towards the more experimental nature in the second half of the album. It features restrained piano-led sections, crisp drumming and delves into psychedelic or prog territory. It feels really intimate as our subject agonises over his message to a loved one. Sent or unsent. ‘No War’ ends off on a note of reflection. The difficulties of the world for a lot of those marginalised in society form its backbone. The increasing sense of chaos exemplified with the dissonant sounds contained within. A feeling many of us living through the past twelve months can attest to.

Music 4 Lovers can be ordered here

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