Alt-Rock band, Death From Above presents a current of positivity underneath a wall of sludge on their new album, “Is 4 Lovers.”
Twenty years into their careers, after capitalizing on the garage revival of the 2000s, the Canadian duo consisting of bassist Jesse F. Keeler and drummer and vocalist Sebastien Grainger, continues to hone their hardcore riffs, inflecting them with equally heavy synths.
Also known as Death from Above 1979, they kick off this 10-track set with “Modern Guy,” using a formula of employing both negative and positive themes in songs — a style they revisit throughout the album.
Nestled by erratic guitar in this case, scenes reference helplessness, “Progress not a promise ... Grow up fast, told you’re no good now,” before parting with the important climax, “You can change the world if you change you.”
Recalling an interview with Apple Music, following the album’s March 23 drop, Grainger told of how they had both wanted to “get back” in the sense of the duo producing their own work.
According to him, (the song) “Instantly validated our decision to do this album ourselves, where on day two, we’re already writing a metal Beatles version of ‘Reelin’ in the Years’ by Steely Dan.”
“One + One” and “Free Animal,” still heavy, more or less, keep up with positive-tinged themes. The former, with Grainger’s fast tempo and chaotic drum fills, overflows with lust, “I need you, I can’t control it, breathe in, heartbeat automatic“.
The latter describes the life of an artist/freelancer who doesn’t have a boss and doesn’t have a job. Taking the theme of unemployment lightly, since many lost work during the pandemic, the lyrics deal freedom from a mundane existence, “I see no chains, I see no fences. I see no gates of steel” ... “I’m a free animal.”
Inspired by his wife who was working on a documentary about a subject’s high-profile job transition, Grainger created a story on “N.Y.C. Power Elite Part I” that honors the band’s ties to elements of Punk Rock in its execution.
The narrative unfolds with a character who believes that because of the rewards they’ve garnered, they are, in fact, better morally and ethically, than the rest of society, feeling like they can dicate people’s lives.
Using surfer terminology in a song that describes porn addiction and drowning in a technological world, “Totally Wiped Out” chugs along with Pop-like tendencies and screams added from Jordan Blilie (Blood Brothers). All taken at once, this cut’s delivery is crushing.
“Glass Homes,” begins thinking about how people are born surrounded by other people’s lives. Following this thought, Keeler explained how ideas like, “Maybe your politics suck/Face it, everyone’s messed up” are probably the most visible in America because every other country has more than two real political parties.
As Canadians, he continued, “We’re so inundated by their media that I think we sometimes forget that we don’t have that issue — like, we really do have options.”
In a fitting tender moment near the end of the LP, “Love Letter” shakes things up with a piano ballad complete with light synths. Vocals like, “You’re the one that I miss… So take this with a kiss” are still pining, even though the song is ironically about how hard it is to write a love letter.