Release Date: Sep 8, 2017
Record label: Warner Bros.
The bands resurrection a few years ago with second full-length The Physical World kept it loud and chaotic, but also trimmed the fat, refining things in the production area and just generally becoming slicker. It was a reunion backed with fierce excitement and they lived up to expectation with the same thumping velocity. It.
hough they were actually just broken up for five years, the gap between Death From Above’s 2004 full-length debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine and 2014’s The Physical World inevitably saddled the latter album with a decade’s worth of expectation. This time, with their new album Outrage! Is Now arriving three years after The Physical World, it may seem as if Death From Above, now back to their original name, have settled into a more routine working rhythm. But since getting back together in 2011, the Toronto dance-punk duo has been tentative about its future, offering little more than a we’ll-see-what-happens outlook at every step..
Infamous more for being CSS’s odd choice of shagging music than for their own cultural impact – their 2005 new rave hit Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above made them household names, in indier households – trunk-nosed Toronto disco punk duo Death From Above (nee 1979) have traded on their cultish mystery since returning from a 10-year studio hiatus with 2014’s second album The Physical World. So, still on only their third full-length record in 17 years(!), DFA remain a pliable, evolving concept, and Outrage! is an attempt to sprawl in the vague direction of scuzz-rock respectability. Hiring QOTSA producer Eric Valentine has given their bluesy bluster a hint of Josh Homme’s desert Bowie sleaze on tracks like Never Swim Alone, Statues, Caught Up and Moonlight (about singing drummer Sebastien Grainger getting a savage street beating while on tour in Dallas), and nudged the likes of Freeze Me even further into the realm of all-out grit-pop.
Death from Above belong to a growing group of artists – along with the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. – whose post-reunion careers have now lasted longer than their original heyday. Having made a big splash during the dance-punk craze of the early aughts, the Toronto-bred duo of singer/drummer Sebastien Grainger and bassist Jesse F. Keeler reformed in 2011 and released the comeback album The Physical World in 2014.
If you take 10 years off between records, you might as well be starting from scratch. That was certainly the case for Death from Above 1979, whose first album (2004’s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine ) helped define the dance-punk years with its jet-powered collection of thrashable love songs. That record was rightly beloved and, after the band’s 2006 breakup, seemed destined to exist as a singular artifact of its trucker-hatted, mp3-blogged time.
I can’t tell you that these tricks don’t work well, because they do. But what I can tell you is that they don’t exactly constitute creativity, leading to music that feels regurgitative, calculated, and industry-tested. This wouldn’t be an issue were it not for the fact that the album positions itself as somehow relevant to its surroundings, somehow speaking to a climate of outrage, despite its seeming insincerity regarding the political and social contexts it finds itself in.
Music, like most art, exists through a series of phases. Genres rise and fall in popularity; bands can be the hot new thing, only to one day become pass.
Death From Above (née 1979) must have had a hell of a tough time making 2014's 'The Physical World'. Following up their universally acclaimed debut a full decade later, the Canadian duo had to produce something that could both recapture the manic energy of their early days and make a newly fresh impact on a musical landscape that had altered drastically since their 2006 breakup. Though there were always going to be diehards who rejected its existence on principle, the record was far more successful in fulfilling the reformed band’s ambitions than it had any right to be, with cuts like ‘Crystal Ball’ and ‘White Is Red’ displaying a knack for ambitious songwriting that had still been in its infancy back on ‘You’re A Woman I’m A Machine’.
Death From Above may have lost the 1979 edge but they haven't lost the soul and funk in their music. The Toronto duo finesse their catchy sound (and make no mistake this record's filled with some of their biggest hooks to date) to show that with experience comes wisdom. Wisdom on how to take a raw, jagged indie sound of old and make it into mainstream candy that'll sate even the diehard fans who never wanted you to 'sell out'.