When Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler burst out of Toronto in 2004 with You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, ‘dance-punk’ was only being formulated as an idea (the two terms long seemed opposing in music), but as Death From Above 1979 they furiously put it on the map – and then broke up after touring concluded two years later. That break-up, however, only lasted half a decade, and the reunion was greeted with as much intensity as their music (including an over-capacity, shut-down-by-the-cops performance at SXSW). But we’re a few years removed from that, so the duo needed to put up or shut up with some new material. With The Physical World, DFA1979 put their name back on the dance-punk map.
First things first: World distinctly keeps in the pattern of Machine – and rightly so, as that’s a record that’s stood the test of (relative) time, having only grown more influential. From top to bottom, the new album brings the in-your-face dance-punk that DFA1979 were/are known for, yet doesn’t go overboard into theatrics or noise – Grainger and Keeler are still skilled musicians. There’s just the right amount of speed and pressure to songs like “Right On, Frankenstein” and “Crystal Ball”, while tragic girls inhabit the rendered worlds of “White Is Red”, “Nothin’ Left”, and “Gemini”.
In today’s fast-paced world, five years counts as a break-up and reunion, and in that time the legacy of Death From Above 1979 only grew. Now on to the next stage in this Physical World.