The Physical World, the name of Death From Above 1979’s long-awaited follow-up, evokes empiricism–the philosophical belief in all that can be observed with the senses–and with it the hope that the band can champion good ol’ rock and roll–an all-out assault on those aforementioned senses–without the processed excess of modern-day pop. It’s a hopeful prospect. DFA1979’s first couple of releases were unapologetically hardline, a lo-fi one-two combo of bass-driven hooks and punchy drums. Now, after a 10 year hiatus, DFA1979 has reunited. But a lot has changed since 2004…has DFA1979’s identity changed, too?

With band members Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler using their time apart to explore more melodic ventures (Sebastien Grainger exploring solo work, and Keeler lending his gilded bass lines to MSTRKRFT’s dance halls), it’s unsurprising that these influences bleed into DFA1979’s new album. What is surprising, however, is how much more dated The Physical World feels as a result. Earlier releases were defined by their sparsity and repetition –kinetic anthems that were stamped with a “who cares” attitude. Comparatively, The Physical World is a more professional release, with cleaner vocals and greater instrumental variety. Consequently, The Physical World feels closer to the operatic productions of ’90s bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Muse, as opposed to 8-track revivalists that still flourish today. This approach might appeal to some, but it strikes me as a betrayal of their identity –why name a band 1979 if its sound is disconnected from that era?

That said, there is a strong EP to be found in this 35-minute LP. Songs like “Right On, Frankenstein,” “Crystal Ball,” and “Nothing Left” fall right in DFA1979’s wheelhouse, with a 4/4 kick drum providing scaffolding for Keeler’s indelible basslines. This is the music of spilt beer, split ends, chipped teeth and nail polish, ripped jeans and speaker mesh. The Physical World isn’t quite a return to form, nor is it a great leap forward, but Grainger and Keeler’s musicianship is tenacious and vital when they’re fit. Keep an eye out. 6/10