Death From Above 1979
You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine
etal is dead. That’s right, Danzig. Sorry, Ozzy. Yes, you’re slightly to blame, Lars. Everyone’s effort was all for naught, all for the benefit of metaphorical capitalist hands. All in the interest of the Limp Korn blaxploitation junket. Then again, who knew the devil’s son was also capable of resurrection? If Death From Above 1979 is the anti-Jesus, You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine is the soundtrack for an empty mausoleum.
For those unfamiliar with the Montreal two-piece, they subscribe to an adjusted Lightning Bolt formation and their scarce demo-quality release Heads Up! was met with incredibly positive critical response. And yeah, they’re still DFA: Sebastien Grainger sings like he was born and raised in an all-soprano whorehouse, Jesse Keeler’s use of melody and transition scalps heads without a knife. Still, nothing against their older work, but it’s evident that things done changed for the boys since the days of “Dead Womb”.
The production is staggeringly solid, retaining the group’s rugged intensity while keeping enough polish to show off their obvious pop sensibility. The changes are more than just aesthetic, with melody now at the forefront to give each composition a different shade in metal’s grayscale palette. The shift in sound is best shown by the revamping of “Romantic Rights”, simultaneously an EP and album highlight. From the opening scratched riff to the fist-pumping rave up at the chorus, all of the changes enhance the song while still showing respect to the original parameters that the song set.
Many critics maintain DFA as the nice boys of nouveau metal for Grainger’s line “We can do it and start a family”, but I’m not as easily fooled. To me, the subtle sexuality in musical overtones prove these dudes to be sleaze-rock professionals that occasionally say nice shit, but only so they can bang your girlfriend at the prom. Spiked punch and detached dresses aside, these guys flip several different styles over the course of the album. Esoterically titled “Black History Month” chugs through a chutes-and-ladders bass scale, while cowbell-tinged drums and vaguely inspirational lyrics (“Do you remember when this pool was / A great place for waterwings and cannonballs? / …Hold on, children”) dance their way to an explosive crescendo of subtle synth and a massive wall of guitar sound.
“Sexy Results” closes the album out with handclapping out of a peep show and female voices cooing from behind, while the boys hump around with a Queen kick-stomp strut and six-string tidal waves. When the guitar whips the tropical storm into a black squall near the chorus, you’re overwhelmed by the emphasis placed on a simple request (“My friend wants to take you out then home”). The lyrics are funnier than the title, somehow soundtracking an unreleased episode of The Office (“Sexy woman, meet me after work /…I wanna show you how the mailboy flirts”). The end of the song is filled with cowbell, vocal samples and a P-Funk synth line, making this sound more like a Paul’s Boutique outtake than the new face of metal’s statement of intent. And yes, I’m okay with that.
So, you read the epitaph before. Now, where do they stand? It’s quite simple: take the pop from Guns ‘N Roses, take the pomp from Van Halen and take the piss out of uber-serious nu-metal and you’ve got one of the most inventive metal outfits in recent history. When the lists come in to close the year out, You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine will stand as a landmark. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Rollie Pemberton
Reviewed on: 2004-11-03