Album review: Death From Above 1979 – Is 4 Lovers

Disco-punks Death From Above 1979 drift from moshpit to dancefloor on softer fourth album, Is 4 Lovers.

Daft Punk may be dead, but dance-punk lives on. Death From Above 1979 never came up with an attention-grabbing gimmick quite as good as pretending to be robots but, in their own way, Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler are as pioneering a duo as the recently-split Get Lucky helmet-wearers. 

Only trouble is, DFA have never quite moved on from their initial impact, as heard on seismic 2004 full-length debut You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, which married monster distorted bass riffs and funk rhythms to devastating effect. It was a great trick, so understandably one they’ve regularly repeated in a stop-start career that’s never quite recovered its early momentum (this is only their fourth album in 20 on-off years as a band). And, initially, Is 4 Lovers seems content to stick its needle in the same groove.

Encouragingly, the single One + One is perhaps the best thing they’ve ever done, the perfect blend of hyper rock riffing and dancefloor energy. But – like an aging raver finding he can no longer hack the pace of all-night clubbing – things start to flag a little.

The band themselves seem to recognise that. So, while the first half of Is 4 Lovers takes a jackhammer to old, if still relatively fertile ground (hey, why have one song called NYC Power Elite when you can have two?), the second half dials down the pulverising and amps up the pulsating on less frenzied, more electronic songs such as Love Letter and Glass Homes.

It’s a good idea to mix things up, but the move also renders them less visceral and dilutes their identity. Next time, maybe they should try putting on helmets?

Verdict: 3/5

For Fans Of: The White Stripes, Lightning Bolt, Royal Blood

Is 4 Lovers is released on March 26 via Spinefarm.

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Posted on March 23rd 2021, 12:09p.m.
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