29 April 2010

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

For those out of the loop, LCD Soundsystem are probably the most consistently great band of the last five years. Having garnered near universal acclaim with their first two albums "LCD Soundsystem" and "Sound Of Silver", as well as three Grammy nominations along the way, it’s fair to say they’re a pretty big deal. The brains behind it all and the only actual member is New York DJ, producer and co-founder of DFA Records, James Murphy, whose barely-even-singing singing voice has been the calling card of the band since their first single back in 2002. Having created what many to consider to be two of the best songs of the noughties (apologies for using that phrase) in “Someone Great” and “All My Friends”, expectations have been a little high for LCD’s third, and if Murphy is to be believed, final album.

Lead single “Drunk Girls” wasn’t well received by all LCD fans, although most saw it as a good, if slightly disposable, dancefloor filler in the vein of previous single “North American Scum”. But “Drunk Girls” with its pop sensibilities and instant raucous hook is a world away from the rest of “This Is Happening”. For one, it’s under five and a half minutes long and sounds nothing like Berlin-era David Bowie, whereas the other eight tracks do. Album opener “Dance Yrself Clean”, with its slow and steady build-up to the show-stopping drop, could well be the best thing Murphy has ever done and the quality doesn’t let up from there on in. “I Can Change” is a swirling, shimmering slice of modern disco that you’ll be whistling for the whole day after hearing it, whilst “Pow Pow” and “You Wanted A Hit” return to the dance-punk sound that Murphy and DFA Records helped to create. Despite the latter song’s hook of “We won’t be your babies anymore”, it lives up to its title by being the only other possible hit after “Drunk Girls”, despite being nine minutes long.
“All I Want” is such a pastiche of “Heroes” it’s almost a disappointment when a coke-addled Bowie fails to turn up halfway though. Almost. “Somebody’s Calling Me” continues in treading the line between pastiche and rip-off, by sounding like the illegitimate offspring of Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing”. Whilst with lesser artists you’d accuse of a lack of ideas or shamelessly rehashing the past, with LCD Soundsystem, it just sounds like an obvious homage to Murphy’s influences. If “This Is Happening” is definitely to be Murphy’s last album under the LCD name then there’s few better ways to sign off than album closer “Home”, a funky-yet-heartfelt future floor-filler that surely wasn’t intended as such. It’s the closest LCD Soundsystem has come to a conventional pop song over three albums.

“This Is Happening” isn’t full of pure dance-punk hits like “North American Scum” or “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, neither is it a collection of earnest, soulful laments such as the previously-mentioned “Someone Great” and “All My Friends” as some may have hoped. Instead its sound is somewhere in between; songs to make you move your hips and break your heart at the same time. They’ll be missed.
FOR FANS OF: Hot Chip, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Rapture, Simian Mobile Disco, Justice
ESSENTIAL: "Dance Yrself Clean", "Drunk Girls", "I Can Change", "All I Want, "Somebody's Calling Me", "Home"

01 Dance Yrself Clean by HitsvilleUK-1

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