Review of The Physical World Album by Death From Above 1979

Ten years ago, Canadian rock duo Death From Above 1979 hit the scene with debut full length 'You're A Woman, I'm A Machine'; an album that fused scuzzy noise rock with danceable indie tendencies, while utilizing bass, drums, vocals and occasionally electronics. In the decade that has gone by, Death From Above 1979 have split up (2006), gotten back together (2011) and have now finally released a follow up in the shape of 'The Physical World'. Can their new album live up to former glories?

Death From Above 1979 The Physical World Album

If 'Cheap Talk' is anything to go by, yes. This song starts the album with a bang. The drums are flicking, the bass notes screeching, before going into the kind of thick groove Death From Above 1979 are known for. They've seemingly not lost it in the last ten years. Sebastien Grainger's drum performance is impressive, especially with the short and sweet blasts of cowbell, adding to the thrill. Next is 'Right On, Frankenstein!' which has a punk urgency to it, due to the speedy bassline and the lyrics 'I don't want to die, but I want to be buried', which are just fun and senseless. The bridge completely flips the tone of the song with frantic high notes that you don't see coming. 'Always On' is also bound to get you rocking with stompy low notes contrasted to high bass fills, making the track an unpredictable thrill.  Speaking of unpredictable 'White Is Red' completely catches you off guard by softening up and being considerably more heartfelt than Death From Above 1979 have ever been before, with a colourful bassline and themes of teenage romance and love lost gently crooned by Grainger.

It's not all great though. 'Trainwreck 1979' and 'Nothin' Left' feel tired, as if the album is bored of its own cut to the chase, simple rock approach that feels stale rather than energetic. 'Government Trash' thankfully picks things up, reigniting the fire of the earlier tracks on the album, with its loose basslines slapping you back and forth. Likewise 'Gemini' injects some quirkiness with an incredibly bendy feel in its main riff. The title track and closer opens with ear grabbing, jittering techno that is soon stabbed with hammering low notes. The song goes into a crushing bass solo that verges on epic, and then wraps up with a piano using the same melody, making it extra memorable.

While 'The Physical World' doesn't quite reach the highs of its predecessor 'You're A Woman, I'm A Machine', it does a damn good job of showing that bands can make great post-break up/reunion albums that are worthy of their legacy and even throw in a few surprises while at it. The band's energy, song writing skills and originality are all still intact, so if you were a fan ten years ago, welcome back and if you're new to the band, welcome to the party.


Max Cussons

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