For Those I Love – For Those I Love
Platonic love between men should be celebrated. Few contemporary artists express this better than Ireland’s David Balfe, who goes under the name For Those I Love for his debut of the same name. The album is a visceral and focused study of grief, guilt, rage and hope.
Balfe, who self-produced For Those I Love on his computer, successfully blends dance music with spoken-word poetry; he’s extraordinarily astute in the way he processes his emotions. But the album isn’t what you’d call “unfiltered” – he wrote more than 76 songs after the suicide of his best friend, Paul Curran, which were then condensed into this nine-track project. His words land with precision and depth, not one wasted.
There’s occasionally a violence to the beats. A darkness. It speaks to the real-life issues that afflict the areas of Dublin where Balfe grew up. On “Top Scheme”, he unleashes a fierce diatribe against the proliferation of upper middle-class drug users – who spare no thought for how their habits fuel gang wars and street violence – and an establishment that exists to preserve the status quo. “The Myth / I Don’t” explores his pathological fear of answering the phone after Curran’s death, expecting news of further tragedy. “You Live / No One Like You” deploys sombre, Joy Division piano notes under a beat that gathers pace, as Balfe finds myriad ways to celebrate Curran each day.
For Those I Love is as much a piece of history as it is a work of art. Curran’s voice is everywhere, in snatches of recorded conversations and recitals of his own poetry. The classic house influences and chirpy recurring synth motif conjure a sense of youthful innocence, heightening the grief of a life cut short. Balfe frequently finds himself talking directly to his friend, poring over memories from their childhood and teenage years. “If I knew what was wrong, I would tell you…” he murmurs, voice trembling, on closing track “Leave Me Not Love.” A staggering album.
Death from Above 1979 review – Is 4 Lovers
Death from Above 1979’s last album, 2017’s Outrage! Is Now was both a bristling riposte to reactionary culture and a call for revolution. Now, however, Sebastian Grainger and Jesse F Keeler are all about the love.
It’s not entirely clear why the Toronto-formed band are choosing now to introduce a “totally new sound” (at least that’s what their press material claims). Much of their self-produced album, Is 4 Lovers, is great. There are shuffling, buzzy synths on “Glass Homes” that recall another (recently retired) duo, Daft Punk. “One + One” is all jittery urgency and hip-grinding guitar riffs, while Mean Streets” starts out on sombre piano before exploding into a pummelling frenzy of percussion and feedback.
Be that as it may, there’s still a nagging sense that the band are resting on their laurels. The record is still good – DFA are too talented for it to be otherwise – but it’s a little deflating for a band whose history is built on boundary-pushing.