Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Death From Above 1979

You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (2004)

Last Gang / Vice

With one of the few absolutely essential records of the year, Death From Above 1979 step around and over the lines drawn in the indie sand with a sound and style that fits nowhere but can be appreciated everywhere. You're A Woman, I'm A Machine hits the sweet spot between that time-tested garage swagger and genre-shattering originality. Here you have the gritty toughness of a buzzsaw blues riff coupled with the shameless sexuality of a danceable post-punk beat. The soundscape painted is dense and busy with a heavy low end yet is at the same time fluid and quickly moving, a pairing that gives You're A Woman, I'm A Machine some of the sharpest hooks and most infectious songs of any record this year.

The most remarkable thing is that this is all from a two-piece! That fact alone must shock those that have experienced DFA'79 as faceless audio alone, for the band sounds absolutely huge on record. Furthermore, there's nary a proper guitarist in sight. Death From Above is two members of Toronto hardcore band Femme Fatale, although as this record continues to blow up that's looking more and more like an unimportant footnote. Drummer Sebastien Grainger takes on vocal duties while Jesse Keeler doubles on bass and synth as needed. Keeler's playing is commendable in that, through a wall of distortion, he gives an instrument so often resigned to the background remarkable prominence. The instrumentation has far more life and energy than it seems on paper and gives Death From Above an unmistakable sound.

You're A Woman, I'm A Machine is a collection of break-up songs seen through a bitter, aggressive and overtly sexual filter. "Turn It Out" kicks the album off with a heavy cacophonous stomp, instantly laying the sonic groundwork for what's to come. The following single "Romantic Rights" likewise cements the lyrical themes and shows off just how effective the band's deep and danceable grooves can be. Punk energy permeates "Blood On Our Hands" with Grainger's soaring vocals in the chorus cementing it as one of the album's best cuts. The band's hardcore roots also show through on the title track, which pushes Keeler's playing to an impressive speed. Yet it's in the combination of the aggro moments and downright funky jams that make the record something special. The last two tracks are a perfect example: the lunatic screaming and chaotic song structure of the sleazy "Pull Out" should win over Blood Brothers fans in a second while the album-closing "Sexy Results" features more ass-shaking rhythm than most so-called "dance punk" bands could ever muster. Hell, it even rocks the cowbell for good measure.

They don't make `em with this much personality anymore. Death From Above 1979 do something shockingly out of character for this decade by writing music that's hook filled and accessible yet clearly unique and accomplished. That highbrow indie publications can debate the depths of Grainger's damaged love while at the same time normal folk can just ignore it and dance is a marvel in itself.