Death From Above 1979’s 2004 debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine always struck me as a scorched earth deal, a grenade tossed by Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler into an unsuspecting music scene before striding away, completely nonchalant.
The robustness of the record suggested a simplicity that belied how tricky it was to make a drum kit and a bass guitar sound this good. The fact that no one’s really replicated DFA1979 in the decade since is testament to that, however well groups like Royal Blood, Japandroids and DZ Deathrays might play in the same sandpit. It makes sense that Grainger and Keeler would step away from the group; the macho dance-rock template they’d provided was inherently restrictive, particularly when compared with the opportunities afforded within MSTRKRFT’s electronica.
Ah, but here we are a decade later, and the group’s 2011 reunion — one of many in the recent past, though few groups have reunited so quickly — has borne new fruit in the form of The Physical World, a full-bodied record that simultaneously demonstrates the enduring appeal of the DFA1979 sound and its inherent musical limitations.