Death From Above 1979’s return was welcomed just as it was surprising. When Romantic Rights dropped in 2004, everyone was fixated on two-piece groups (thank the White Stripes) and DFA couldn’t have been more different from the pack. With just a few synths, a bass and a drum kit, the group took on self-mocking and brooding behavior that was almost endearing. Their albums of danceable thrash-punk didn’t cross over to mainstream acclaim but they were rather left to cult status amongst devout fans.
Only two years later, the band ended abruptly with a statement admitting that bassist Jesse F. Keeler and drummer Sebastien Grainger hardly spoke any more. Eventually the lyrics to “You’re A Woman, I’m a Machine,” served prophetic: “Now that it’s over, I love you more and more.”
If they sound the same as they did when I saw them at Lollapalooza 2011, expect to hear Grainger’s choked, yearning howls caught in a boyish, abandoned purgatory coupled by his arrhythmic drums as Keeler’s bass, backed with distortion, is tightly coiled into fuzz and power. And while The Physical World, their latest album, left them with more questions than answers — as Grainger begged “Show me something new/ Something I can like” — maybe they’ve come to accept the dissatisfaction. With The Bots.