Album Review: Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

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The Physical World is the sophomore album from returning punk duo Death From Above 1979, which originally broke up in 2006.

Death From Above 1979 has a distinct sound that works both against them and in their favor on this album. The duo is consistently pumping through the hot-blooded riffs and drumming that they specialize in, with Sebastien Grainger lashing out his dancey cries. At the album’s high points this works great, but at times songs just don’t have enough flair to stand on their own.

For example, “Virgins” thrives in this album’s formula for a great song. A thick, head banging riff grabs hold of you right away and gives you the infections, albeit perhaps meaningless, sing-along (“Where have all the virgins gone?! / Sleeping on the parents’ lawn!”). Later, the song gets broken down into an undeniable groove of funky drumming and slick guitar riffs.

Album standout “Gemini” boasts the most colorful sound on the band’s latest effort with these spinning guitar effects connected by speed riffs that make for a perfect freak out. The song is wild and innovative in an album that slowly starts to resemble a one trick pony. The lyrics are the perfect mix of catchy and weird that stick in my mind more so than any others throughout the album, reeling off lines about a girl who cries on her birthday, (“No, it’s not the first time”). Chorus goes on to note “24/7, still believes in heaven / Rasberry lips, never been kissed.” It’s that kind of imagery that keeps a good dancey punk track like this one from going stale.

The album is at its best when you’re dancing to these absurdist lyrics that you can’t keep out of your head. It’s a formula that’s enjoyable when done well, but it leaves little room for variation. A handful of tracks on The Physical World just feel like rehashed ideas with uninspired lyrics sang without the same genuine enthusiasm shown on other songs, like the single “Trainwreck 1979”. While Grainger’s singing style has a way of grabbing a listener quickly, it only really sticks with you when there’s some of that ridiculous playfulness to it.

Certain songs just don’t have the individuality to stand out on an album of songs built with such a similar structure. “Nothin’ Left” has the fast-paced metal riff but quickly loses steam because the lyrics are no fun to listen to, nor do they make me think about anything (which isn’t why you listen to this album to begin with). The single “Government Trash” gets me right away with its chaotic sound, but by the last fourth of the album, the song doesn’t showcase anything new to keep me engaged.

The Physical World’s closing title track unfortunately doesn’t go out of its way to throw the kitchen sink at you the way preceding song “Gemini” managed to with its unique sound and song structure. While it does have a decent sound with building synthesizers backing the always chugging guitar riffs, it just doesn’t feel strong enough to carry the weight of leaving the listener satisfied as an album closer. And after the song seemingly comes to a close, it returns with a bland breakdown that loses its way to epic only to find itself unfulfilling.

Overall, The Physical World is pretty hit-and-miss. It hits hard with memorable tracks like “Gemini”, but for each great song there’s a song that isn’t bad, yet not worth returning to like “Nothin’ Left”. The album is worth a full listen, however, only a handful of tracks will be kept in rotation for this listener.

Essential Tracks: “Gemini”, “Virgins”, “Trainwreck 1979”, “White is Red”

Check out Death From Above 1979’s current tour dates below:

Sep 12 MRCY Block Party Laval, Canada Tickets RSVP
Oct 07 Luxor Koln, Germany Sold Out RSVP
Oct 08 Badaboum Paris, France Tickets RSVP
Oct 09 Botanique Brussels, Belgium Tickets RSVP
Oct 11 Melkweg Amsterdam, Netherlands Tickets RSVP
Oct 12 Hafenklang Hamburg, Germany Sold Out RSVP
Oct 13 Cassiopeia Berlin, Germany Tickets RSVP
Oct 15 Flex Vienna, Austria Tickets RSVP
Oct 16 Hansa 39 Munich, Germany Sold Out RSVP
Oct 17 Covo Club Bologna, Italy Tickets RSVP
Oct 18 Mascotte Zurich, Switzerland Tickets RSVP
Oct 20 Electric Ballroom London, United Kingdom Sold Out RSVP
Oct 21 Gorilla Manchester, United Kingdom Sold Out RSVP
Oct 22 Garage Glasgow, United Kingdom Sold Out RSVP
Oct 24 Sheffield Plug Sheffield, United Kingdom Tickets RSVP
Oct 25 Simple Things Bristol, United Kingdom Tickets RSVP
Nov 01 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience New Orleans, LA Tickets RSVP
Nov 03 Buckhead Theatre

w/ Biblical
Atlanta, GA Tickets RSVP
Nov 04 Marathon Music Works

w/ Biblical
Nashville, TN Tickets RSVP
Nov 06 Warehouse Live

w/ Biblical
Houston, TX Tickets RSVP
Nov 07 FUN FUN FUN FEST Austin, TX Tickets RSVP
Nov 08 Granada Theatre

w/ Biblical
Dallas, TX Tickets RSVP
Nov 10 Marquee Theatre

w/ Biblical
Tempe, AZ Tickets RSVP
Nov 12 House of Blues

w/ Biblical
San Diego, CA Tickets RSVP
Nov 13 Observatory

w/ Biblical
Santa Ana, CA Tickets RSVP
Nov 14 The Regent Theatre Los Angeles, CA Tickets RSVP
Nov 15 Brooklyn Bowl

w/ Biblical
Las Vegas, NV Tickets RSVP
Nov 17 The Independent

w/ Biblical
San Francisco, CA Sold Out RSVP
Nov 18 Crystal Ballroom

w/ Biblical
Portland, OR Tickets RSVP
Nov 19 Neumos

w/ Biblical
Seattle, WA Sold Out RSVP
Nov 21 In The Venue

w/ Biblical
Salt Lake City, UT Tickets RSVP
Nov 22 FOX THEATRE

w/ Biblical
Boulder, CO Tickets RSVP
Nov 24 First Ave

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Minneapolis, MN Tickets RSVP
Nov 25 Riviera Theatre

w/ Biblical
Chicago, IL Tickets RSVP
Nov 26 Crofoot

w/ Biblical
Detroit, MI Tickets RSVP
Nov 28 Terminal 5

w/ Biblical
New York, NY Tickets RSVP
Nov 29 Union Transfer

w/ Biblical
Philadelphia, PA Tickets RSVP
Dec 01 9:30 Club

w/ Biblical
Washington, DC Tickets RSVP
Dec 02 House Of Blues

w/ Biblical
Boston, MA

 

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