Since 2005, they have delighted and surprised us with their irresistible mix of dance, rock and bittersweet cynicism, but the rumours are true, after their current tour, LCD Soundsystem will be no more, but fear not fellow LCD fans, they’re not going down without a fight.
This is Happening marks a new high for the band; electro, dance, rock, self effacing and confessional, this album is everything we have come to expect from Murphy and co but more. Which of course begs the question, why? Why are they leaving us at the top of their game? In a recent interview with NME Murphy expressed a deep loathing for bands that just exist because they can, implying he no longer sees a purpose for LCD. So this is LCD Soundsystem‘s suicide note, sit up and take notice.
Dance Yrself Clean eases you in with beautiful harmonies and slow marching beats, and it truly is beautiful, LCD have a knack for combining upbeat music with bitter, satirical lyrics and this is no exception; “Dance yourself clean, yeah, you’re blowing Marxism to pieces” (and I think it’s quite an achievement to fit Marxism in to the lyrics of a dance song). 3 minutes in (bearing in mind this is a 9 minute song) and it kicks off; the heavy pounding synth, marching drum machine and Murphy’s high pitched, straining vocals, it’s like The Raptures intellectual older brother.
Drunk Girls, the first single from the album, takes a cynical swipe at over indulgent “party girls” (and boys); “Drunk girls are boringly wild…Drunk girls like to file complaints”. It’s inescapably punky with an irresistible dance beat and it’s impossible not to dance. Think Blur’s “Girls & Boys” with a snarling, spiteful edge. One Touch is a frantic disco dreadnought fuelled by Murphy’s impatient lyrics, reminiscent of Primal Scream, with some monotonous 80’s vocals thrown in for good measure.
After the thumping, insatiable frenzy of One Touch, Murphy treats us to a little bit of NY indie guitar rock, All I Want sees Murphy‘s lyrics take on a confessional hue, “All I want is your pity/ Or all I want is your bitter tears”, this song feels poignant, a parting gesture even, optimistic yet tinged with an inescapable sadness and given that this is the last ever LCD album it seems apt that this song should feature…parting is such sweet sorrow.
I Can Change sees LCD pay homage to the very beginnings of dance music as we know it, with its 80’s synth pop vibe and Human League style synth riffs, this intimate, paranoid confessional will make you want to dance like someone in the background on Top of the Pops.
You Wanted a Hit takes a pop at the music industry and a very obvious one at that, it’s even in the song title. Having never been a conventional band, this is not a “music by numbers” song, it opens with 2 minutes of synth riffs, random bleeps and drum machines and there’s not a hook in sight. Just after the 2 minute mark, a dampened guitar riff fades in and the distinctive NY dance rock “clap” keeps the beat, “You wanted a hit/ Well maybe we don’t do hits…” Murphy‘s opening lyrics makes the point quite clear, he denounces industry pressures because he can and for no other reason it seems, its satirical, bitter and wonderful.
Want drum driven, stream of consciousness, like a coked up tosser in a trendy wine bar? Well listen to Pow Pow, it’s American dance rock’s alternative to Radiohead‘s Fitter Happier and it’s actually pretty good. Somebody’s Calling Me is a strung out, monotonous piano driven track, full of discordant synth and vocals and more relationship drama for the apparently unlucky in love James Murphy, it sounds like the batteries dying in a much loved toy.
The last track on the album, aptly named Home, begins quite reservedly, all tinkling synths and cow bell taps, it quickly ramps up in to skittering house playfulness, it’s a great song to end on, typical LCD juxtaposition happy up beat melodies with lyrics tinged with melancholy observation, (“This is your last chance now/ And we can break the rules like nothing will last”).
So, this is the end of LCD Soundsystem, but knowing James Murphy he will be along with something new and exciting in the near future. For now we can be safe in the knowledge they didn’t release a shit album just because it was their last, it’s a brilliant, intellectual dance album. LCD Soundsystem, you will be missed…