Death from Above 1979 Have Settled into Their Lives and Sound on 'Is 4 Lovers'
Published Mar 23, 2021Since forming Death from Above 1979 in 2001, Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger have taken their melodic post-hardcore and dance-punk aesthetic and honed a sound recognizable as entirely their own. The band's evolution in all respects has had its share of obstructions. After their now-iconic first releases — 2002's EP Heads Up and their 2004 LP You're a Woman, I'm a Machine — the duo split in 2006, with creative and musical differences as partial reasoning. It's that early, teeth-kicking aggression that fans held onto until DFA reunited in 2011. The regret, angst, and loathing of the pair's earlier releases had tapered off — 2014's The Physical World and 2017's Outrage! Is Now presented a much more paced and routine rhythm.
Grainger and Keeler produced the entirety of Is 4 Lovers themselves, leading to creative freedom and plenty of space for reflection. The current political climate factors heavily into the album — tracks like "Modern Guy" and "N.Y.C. Power Elite, Part 1" are pretty straightforward in their messages. Single "One + One," as proclaimed by Grainger, is a "karmic sequel" to You're a Woman track "Romantic Rights," and is by all measures a love song. While the earlier track embodied a crass rendering of what could be, the new offering is a much more mature reflection of what is, which is the start of Grainger's family, showcasing how much they've grown since their early days.
Simplicity and aggression have their place on Is 4 Lovers alongside slight nods to Keeler's and Grainger's other bands and solo projects, sounds that subtly inch their way into the album's top layer — more a topical dusting not exactly absorbed into the work itself. "Love Letter" is a ballad, and the absence of any grit and inclusion of piano offers a softer side of the duo, while "Glass Homes" is a slower offering of double-time hi-hat and peaking synth that would fit right in on Grainger's 2013 solo album, Yours to Discover.
On Is 4 Lovers, the pair have settled in and settled down, both in their lives and to their own sound. (Universal)