Published Aug 05, 2015Rhythm was always at the heart of Los Angeles noiseniks HEALTH's music. Their previous two LPs — not to mention their companion remix records — had as much in common with industrial EBM as they did ambient noise. But on the quartet's first proper album in six years, HEALTH finally get into the groove.
Death Magic finds the group rounding their edges and deepening their existing sound in much the same way Dan Snaith burrowed down deep on Caribou's latest. In the process, they've discovered both melody and groove, and they bring them both to the forefront for the first time in the band's decade-long career. Noise is still part and parcel to the HEALTH sound, though, rearing its head on "Stonefist" and "New Coke" and taking centre-stage on cuts like "Men Today" and "Courtship II."
The most jarring aspect of Death Magic is its production. Gone is the visceral gut-punch of Get Color. Jake Duzsik's vocals are front and centre, while the sonic experiments on which the band built their reputation take a back seat. The result is menacing dance-pop that wouldn't be out of place next to tracks from the Knife or offshoot Fever Ray.
Though some fans will no doubt be put off by the band's new direction, anything more than a cursory listen reveals that HEALTH haven't made some great leap into the pop void. Rather, they've more fully embraced something that was always inherent to their music in the first place. (Loma Vista)