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Fucking in the Streets

LCD Soundsystem's New Album, This Is Happening

Fucking in the Streets
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LCD Soundsystem's opening salvo, "Losing My Edge," was an archly anxious manifesto about growing old and trying to keep up. Their greatest pop song, "All My Friends," was an achingly heartfelt anthem about, well, growing old and feeling like you've lost the plot. Which I guess makes their new and supposedly final album, This Is Happening, about growing old and feeling more or less fine about it all.

There are still traces of angst and urgency here, and still plenty of sharp, self-aware lyricism, but mostly This Is Happening sounds like the work of a band going out on top with little left to prove. On YouTube, main LCD man James Murphy can be seen recording the album at an L.A. mansion, wearing all white and lounging poolside, and the album sounds appropriately light and relaxed—at least compared to the band's previous work.

Sonically, the album doesn't much change the band's winning brand of muscular, highly referential dance rock; the most obvious differences are a little more out-of-sync modular synth bleeping and blooping courtesy of DFA psychedelicist Gavin Russom and that great, feedback-rich, ringing guitar sound nicked from Bowie's "Heroes" on "Drunk Girls" and "All I Want."

"Drunk Girls" is a typical LCD-album lead single (cf. "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" and "North American Scum"): It's one dumb conceit laid out over basely rocking riffs and somehow spun into something that sticks a little more with each listen. "All I Want," meanwhile, hits an emotional high point almost on par with "All My Friends," only this time the emotion sounds more like resignation than wistful longing.

Elsewhere on the album, Murphy examines the relationship between the artist and his critics/fans/listeners/hangers-on, between the inside and the outside ("There's advantages to each"). The outstanding "Dance Yrself Clean" starts the album with three minutes of him softly dressing down cocktail-party small-talkers before a monster drumbeat and synth line kick in and start the cathartic work of the song's title. "You Wanted a Hit" is a winking apologia ("Maybe we don't do hits") over a steady bass groove broken by bursts of distorted guitar and ring-modulated synth arpeggios. "One Touch" seems to similarly anticipate and make light of potential detractors ("I don't think that we will be pleased with this"), with Murphy reprising the low deadpan he used on the Juan MacLean's "Give Me Every Little Thing" (indeed, this song sounds almost like a sequel). "Pow Pow" is a highly inspired rant that calls out FACT magazine and Village Voice gossip columnist Michael Musto before acknowledging that LCD's knowing, self-critical commentary has a touch of Ouroboros to it ("It's like I'm eating myself to death").

As always, trainspotting Murphy's homages makes for good fun. Album low point "Somebody's Calling Me" is a throwaway nod to Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing," only where Iggy wanted to take you out on the town, Murphy just wants to show you where he sleeps. Album closer "Home" has more than a hint of "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" to it ("I guess you're already there"). Too early to tell if This Is Happening will supplant Sound of Silver as my favorite LCD album, but, at 40, Murphy hasn't lost it yet. recommended

 

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I think "All I Want" may just be the best song he's ever produced. His use of the "Heroes" riff without it coming across as cloying, well, that's hard to do.
Posted by everything's gone green on May 13, 2010 at 3:19 PM · Report this

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