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The Lead Review

Destructive Urges: Debby Friday's Death Drive
Yewande Adeniran , August 22nd, 2019 08:55

Featuring collaborations with Lana Del Rabies and Chino Amobi, Debby Friday's latest tape for Deathbomb Arc is a visceral howl into the unknown, finds Yewande Adeniran

As a society, we’ve all pretty much agreed that the world will probably end soon. How soon is debatable or if the final trigger will indeed be climate change or the wanton power flexes of our global leaders. But these uncertain times have at least provided us with a sound form of rebellion: punk. By nature, it’s nonconformist. Following the only rule that there aren’t any, the current generation of artists and musicians who seek comfort in disillusionment and the abandon of all genre constraints have carved out their own space away from the madness.

DEATH DRIVE borrows its name from Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory. The idea that a drive towards death and destruction exists alongside and in opposition to the more common human instinct to survive. This drive in inseparable from the human body. We can repress it but it will always make an appearance. It exists in our subconscious and feeds off our darkest thoughts. When we begin to allow this side of us to appear, we learn that we take joy in the repetition of acts that we know will cause destruction.

Debby Friday knows the consequences of seeking such thrills but ignores them. 'Fuck you, I’m great’ is the overarching attitude. Focusing on what she wants and only that is the crux of the album. But you're brought along this journey. Her vocals seducing you into the unknown where sex, contradictions, violence, and solitary pleasure draw out your true self, thrusting you into the unknown. You're scared but you're loving it.

That is exactly what you hear in opener ‘TEAR THE VEIL’. A rustling sound is succeeded by the sound of several large thuds, sharply bringing your attention to the message that follows. Purposely self-destructive with a clear aim, “I want it – I get it” embraces the unknown with infectious confidence. “I said I’m too hot to die… I know everything that seeks to destroy me” is an insight into her inner thoughts. Every move is carefully calculated. Masterfully, Debby Friday manages to channel angst into frustration reminiscent of the energy and spirit of punk that was revived in the early 90s, but at no point does this turn into a self indulgent hazy blur. 

In theory, love is all sunshine and blue skies, romantic walks on the beach, lending your phone charger when you’re on 1%. It’s generally sold to us as soppy instagrammable experiences. But what happens when the attraction takes the form of pure unfiltered lust spiralling into chaos from a seduction you can’t get enough of? ‘FATAL’ is the consequence. The result of saying yes, when we know we really shouldn’t. It’s exciting and we want more, no matter what happens.

Within seconds we’re transported into the dead of night, where our inhibitions take over. Siren songstresses loop and feed back ignoring the other voices around them. Echoing the darkness of new wave and the seediness of the forgotten backstreet bars in any major city, Friday’s lyrics “be careful I’ll knock ya and shock ya!” are a stark warning. Enticing the listeners out of their comfort zone, “I am your poison and remedy… I said why don’t you come and get some?”, repeats over hypnotic chugging drums, whipping you into a trance-like state. While you’re at your most relaxed and vulnerable, a scream, crash, and sirens suddenly end the track. “You’re fatal” is shouted over and over, proving that ‘fatal attraction’ is just that.

Delving deeper into the abyss, ‘TREASON’, with fellow noise artist and Deathbomb Arc label mate Lana Del Rabies, deconstructs elements of mid-00s metal with slowed down industrial techno for a pairing that results in nonsensical glitchy screams. At no point does Friday settle on one particular sound or way of expressing herself. A slow burner can suddenly turn into a frenzied panic or a hectic scream can mellow out into a calming wave. This is what keeps DEATH DRIVE moving towards what you would expect to be its eventual doom.

You wouldn’t necessarily expect a track like ‘GOOD AND EVIL’ to be present here. But when you abandon what you’ve been told is the norm for – quite literally – anything else, you allow yourself to be set free and able to take great risks. For example, here we have head-bashing-metal meets high-octane-rave meets always-down-for-a-good-time-nu-rave. We learn that anything is possible and maybe the idea of genres isn’t needed anymore.

Then the collaboration with Chino Amobi, co-founder of NON Worldwide, throws the release into the twenty-first century and reminds us why the death drive exists: “we try and flee from a world that has no outside, in every situation we respond with the same disengagement”. Embracing the death drive, drifting in and out of consciousness, toeing the line between the real and the fantasy whilst remaining aware of all the possible outcomes seems to be the answer to our impending doom. Just make sure you don’t take the death drive lifestyle too seriously and forget to eat and drink water.

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