Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Death From Above 1979

The Physical World (2014)

Last Gang Records

Death From Above 1979 as a band boasts some great qualities -- their wall of sound stems from a two-piece; they broke up and reunited and brought us The Physical World; and, perhaps best of all, they come out of the sprawling metropolis of Toronto. The Physical World, in comparison to their previous releases, is a little less noise-rock, a little more radio friendly, and it's definitely dance-punk. Something, perhaps, somewhat reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age: a post-punk sound full of catchy hooks and sexuality, still brimming with that grittiness and angst. And volume. Don’t forget the volume.

Calling The Physical World one of the best albums of 2014 wouldn’t be an exaggeration in the slightest. It’s the kind of album you can listen to on repeat (and, of course, at top volume, but that should go without saying) without getting sick of it -- there’s just so much wrapped up in those 11 songs, from pop culture references to thick layers of guitar and the kind of riffs that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks.

They certainly don’t waste time with this album. Leading off is “Cheap Talk.” The song leads off with noise and percussion before bringing out the heavy guitar, a taste of what’s to come on the rest of the album. It’s fast paced and loud, and, as the title implies, riddled with sexual themes. But anything less just wouldn’t have fit. “Right On, Frankenstein!” is certainly a highlight of the album, a song a little on the darker side, following suit with a quick tempo and a highly infectious chorus followed by a few very Queen-like seconds of vocals. The third track, “Virgins," has a somewhat slower tempo than the preceding songs, and is rather radio-friendly. That, of course, doesn’t make it any less catchy. “Always On” comments on society’s constant communication and need for social media with repetitive and memorable guitar progression, providing that lyrical homage to Kurt Cobain that’s a near necessity.

“Crystal Ball” boasts strong vocals and more haunting hooks and choruses while “White is Red” slows things down once again with a song about youth, pregnancy and heartbreak. Things pick up once again with “Trainwreck 1979,” the single off the album, a song with a heavy dance beat and a chorus that sounds like it could be straight out of a commercial, which is no weakness. The ending beat of the song moves straight into “Nothing Left,” with more heavy guitars and simple lyrics – summed up best, perhaps, with the lines “no money, no love, no tenderness”. Once again, the song segues straight into “Government Trash,” angry and quick with lines that can’t help but remind one of a certain, rather infamous, mayor of Toronto. The guitar riffs climb quickly, and the song ends in noise.

“Gemini” leads off the same way “Government Trash” ends, which leads to the final track on the album, the record’s namesake, “The Physical World.” The longest song on the album, it’s certainly a track to pay attention to. It’s heavy, it’s dark, it’s noisy. The chorus and verse vocals are juxtaposed with one another, but the heaviness and aggression within the song is constant. It breaks off for a guitar solo, which fades into an antique-sounding piano, which breaks off suddenly. It’s the kind of end to an album that you remember.

It’s been a long time (ten years) since Death From Above 1979 have released a full length album, and, understandably, their sound has changed some. They’ve certainly grown as artists, and The Physical World proves it. It’s one of the must-listens of 2014 -- hell, it’s one of the must-listens of the 2000s in general. The album doesn’t have a weak spot, doesn’t have a song to skip during a play through, and I, for one, haven’t tired of listening to it yet. It’s a damn strong album, through and through.