Song of the Day: Death From Above 1979–The Physical World

I only recently discovered DFA 1979, despite having heard a lot about them back when You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine came out in 2004. I’m not sure what exactly possessed me to listen to them, but I’m glad I did, because The Physical World was one of my favorite albums of 2014.

The title track that closes the album is just about perfect, right up until the outro (which is fine, but goes on a little too long for my taste). The weird little chiptune-like intro kind of throws you off-kilter with its asynchronous bleeps and blips. It sounds like the aural version of macroblocking; there’s structure, but it’s a little corrupted.

Once the drums and guitar kick in and we get formal structure, the chiptune elements remain as a transitional tail after each line of the first verse. Then, we get a bridge, which offers an increased tempo and a wild bass hook, and the chorus, a kind of psychedelic freakout of vocal distortion and syncopation. After that, everything slows down and it all happens again, before transitioning to the aforementioned outro.

This is where I’d usually talk about the lyrics, but uh… I can’t really make heads or tails of them. I generally gravitate toward music first when listening to an album, and then start picking up lyrics via repetition of the album. I will notice when they’re really bad and/or trying too hard to rhyme arbitrarily, but a song with bad lyrics but great music is always preferable to one with amazing lyrics and mediocre music.

In any case, if you like this song, I recommend checking out the rest of the album. I don’t consume enough music anymore to do a yearly best-of, but this album has received a lot of spins since I discovered it.

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