Record of the Week

Health „Death Magic“

„Death Magic“

When I listened to “Dark Enough” for the first time, the sun was about to set and a fresh breeze arose. After a long day at the beach, I put my headphones in to listen to Health, while I made my way through fields of wheat and thorny shrubbery, accompanied by this synth-hookline, which is as blue as it is uplifting:“it doesn’t make a difference how I feel …” – I was quite simply overwhelmed. To me, this moment was almost like experiencing a natural phenomenon, even though the music I was listening to was designed for a completely different setting. Somewhere along the lines of empty underground car parks, where goths go dancing at half past three in the morning.

In the meantime I have listened to all of “Death Magic” countless times, in completely different situations and settings and now, at the end of August, I can clearly state that no other album of 2015 has up until now managed to captivate me and has at the same time managed to irritate me as much as this one. You may wonder why – well, it feels like I fell pretty hard for Health’s respectively HEALTH’s dirty tricks. It seems as if the noise-rock-band  from Los Angeles knows exactly how much Industrial-style sawing noises and technoid beats you need to cushion the blow of those cheesy Depeche-Mode-harmonies – and I dig just that. One moment I’d still have wanted to comment in mild disgust on the fact that “Life” almost sounds just like the unbearable Hurts did a few years back, just not as soulless, thanks to Jake Duzsik’s smooth Neil-Tennant-vocals, however, I’d want to state that the song is all in all very predictable with its cotton candy cloud bullshit around the chorus – and then, in the next moment, I am a brainwashed zombie, dancing and singing along to the dumbest lyrics of all times: “life is strange / we die and we don’t know why / nobody knows / nobody knows …” – crap, I love that stuff! “Flesh World” and “L.A. Looks” are both incredibly whiney and so incredibly catchy at the same time – Health juxtapose this style with tracks like “Stonefist” and “Saliva” as not to come across too “Depeche-Mode-meets-The-Cure”. There’s buzzing and banging noises and all of a sudden you remember that Health actually are/ used to be among the likes of Crystal Castles and Fuck Buttons.

According to what the band wanted, “Death Magic” (the title alone, I mean, come on!) was supposed to feel “modern” and “yet intense and heavy”. So turns out, it’s all purely strategic scheming, of course. After all Health hired two producers who represented two completely different styles (Andrew Dawson – hip hop; Lars Stalfors – indie rock) in order to have their vision be turned into reality. Considering their last two albums, “Get Color” and “Disco2” and of course the original soundtrack to May Payne III, it was already fairly foreseeable that Health were no longer interested in merely creating noise.

There is a certain kind of tenderness in them that wants to be expressed – in the lyrics as well, which are naïve and yet somehow existentialist (“Flesh World”: “all the bones were strong before they broke”). And at the end of the album, when I already want to be mad again about the emotionally charged ballad “Drugs Exist” that Health want to send us off to space/ the afterlife/ nirvana/ the brightly lit dancefloor of an underground car park with, I find myself going back to “Dark Enough” to once again indulge in yet another dose of dark blue melancholic euphoria.
Christina Mohr

(Translation: Tanita Sauf)

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