Release Date: 26th March 2021
Record Label: Universal Music Canada
For Fans Of: Blood Command, !!!, Test Icicles
For many when hearing the descriptor ‘rock two-piece’, The White Stripes spring to mind. For younger audiences maybe, Royal Blood. But real heads know that Death From Above 1979 are the ultimate dynamic duo.
Continuing their sporadic career path of releasing an album and then disappearing for hibernation, DFA1979 have returned with their fourth full length – third since their 2011 reformation – Is 4 Lovers. Clocking in at just over half an hour, the record is their shortest to date, but where it lacks in quantity it more than compensates with quality. With only one single released just under two months before the album release, fans weren’t given much, but rest assured that this tasty morsel is a sign of good things to come.
Album opener ‘Modern Guy’ shrieks out of the speakers, the fuzzy synthy tones recalling the pure distorted noise of the duo’s classic debut album. Kicking into a 12/8 groove with arpeggiated patterns over the top (is it synth? Is it bass? Who cares, it sounds great!), ‘Modern Guy’ sounds like Battles gone dirty, with Sebastian Grainger providing the first of many chorus hooks laden across the album. Single ‘One+One’ maintains the energy; a sexy rock anthem synonymous with the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age, perfectly balancing heavy distorted riffs with a groove that’ll make you move.
Boasting an incredible amount of sleazy, fuzzy riffs, many will regard Is 4 Lovers as a comeback record for DFA1979, recalling the glory days of You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. While the two interim albums were enjoyable records, there was a distinct lack of groove. It’s almost inevitable that a band’s punk energy will diminish over time, but when a dance punk band doesn’t provide any dance numbers, something’s not right. Fortunately, this is far from the case with Is 4 Lovers. It won’t take long to convince even the most sceptical of jaded fans that the magic behind the band’s debut has been recaptured, with some of the new tracks rivalling those found on You’re A Woman… in terms of quality. The first seven tracks are relentless in maintaining intensity, determined to prevent audiences from keeping still. If this was a hardcore album, listeners would be all moshed out, but it would seem ‘all danced out’ would be a more apt term.
As the album reaches its last few tracks, the energy begins to wane. This is the one fault with the record. The final three tracks are by no means bad songs, but after such an exhilarating ride for the last 20 minutes, it feels anticlimactic. The songs are slower, the vocals less shouty, resembling Beck at his softer moments, and the dirty basslines take a backseat for piano and synth pads. Maybe it was being foolishly optimistic to expect the album to be front to back nonstop dance numbers, but having the three slower songs all bunched together as the finale feels like a comedown.
Minor criticism aside, this is a fantastic return from Death From Above 1979. Some of the scuzzy production elements from their debut may not be there, but Is 4 Lovers is bursting with riffs that make you move. What more could you want from a dance punk band?
Recommended Tracks: Free Animal, NYC Power Elite Part 1, Totally Wiped Out