DEBBY FRIDAY’S ‘DEATH DRIVE’ IS AN INDUSTRIAL REVELATION
By Nathan Leigh
January 15, 2020
Years ago I was involved in a musical project that was eviscerated in a particularly cruel press piece saying “this isn’t music, this is therapy.” I want to re-purpose that epithet as praise for Debby Friday’s Death Drive because goddamn will you work some shit out with it. The EP is a captivating confrontational swirling mass of chaos. It is the process of Debby Friday working through the trauma and oppression of surviving as a queer black woman and Nigerian-Canadian immigrant, and as such it is the rare kind of heavy album that’s just as heavy on dark beats as it is on catharsis.
The singer-producer’s latest EP mixes a punk rock energy with heavy industrial blasts of noise and lyrics that tread the line between death, sex, and faith. From the standout “Tear the Veil” to the closing “Neight Fictive,” Debby Friday crafts an arc that travels through the belly of pain and aggression towards something approaching transcendence.
Death Drive flows from its most conventional songs before slowly devolving into distorted beats and fractured atmospheres, her distorted threats and come-ons become just another texture. But even as the song structures dismantle themselves in a dense cloud, the unearthly rage that sustains the opening tracks give way to a haunting spare simplicity. Though “Fatal” rightly belongs on every goth dance playlist 2020 can muster, “Treason” and “Good and Evil” both stretch Debby Friday’s production muscles in impressive ways. She closes out the set with “Neight Fictive,” an unnerving almost-blues. Set to a literally visceral soundscape, the track is a nightmare of survival, in which a woman kills her child, or depending on the verse, her lover, or maybe Jesus. And in the end, does it matter? Sex, violence, and faith are all deeply intertwined in Debby Friday’s claustrophobic soundscapes. By the time Chino Amobi’s vocal sample closes out saying “all thought is strategic” you’ll need a minute to collect yourself and process. Death Drive is a journey for sure.