Album #177: HEALTH – Death Magic

  • Released: 2015
  • Origin: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Label: Loma Vista
  • Best Track: Life

After going to Leeds Festival in 2008, I decided I was going to get back into music after a bit of a dry spell. It proved to be a false start and it was probably around 2103 before my interest in music was really reignited, but back then I bought a few albums by “whatever happened to…?” bands like TV on the Radio and Fighting With Wire, as well as some pretty experimental debut albums by Fuck Buttons and L.A. band HEALTH.

To be honest, I’d more or less forgotten about HEALTH since, but I was reminded of them this week when I saw a Facebook post from somebody ranking their third album Death Magic as one of his top five albums of the 2010s, which prompted me to check it out.

Not surprisingly, it seems the band expanded since their 2007 self-titled debut. That was a record of hovering synth and penetrating drums. Elements of that remain, but it’s a lot more dance-oriented and radio friendly. Not a criticism in this case, as I really think they’ve built on their early sound on Death Magic, without losing track of their origins.

It probably peaks on the catchy ‘Life’, but the record is strong throughout, with ‘L.A. Looks’ also standing out, along with the more unsettling undercurrent of ‘Hurt Yourself’.

It’s a good album. I wouldn’t rank it as a personal favourite of mine, but I can understand how it might be someone else’s.

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