Album reviews: For Those I Love, and Death From Above 1979 – Is 4 Lovers

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.