released May 18th, 2010
from the album - Drunk Girls
from all music
LCD Soundsystem debuted with Losing My Edge, a single that became one of the most talked-about indie releases of 2002. A self-effacing spoof of the outrageous pissing contests that often occur whenever music geeks cross paths ("I was there at the first Can show in Cologne," etc.) laid over a puttering electronic beat with the occasional bursts of discoid clatter, the track was also one of the first released on the DFA label. Several magazines and newspapers would eventually declare James Murphy, the man behind both LCD Soundsystem and DFA, to be one of the coolest people on the planet.
Years of obscurity and the occasional poor decision preceded this. Just before Murphy began to cut his teeth throughout the '90s, first as a member of Pony (an average post-hardcore band with heavy debts to their inspirations) and then with Speedking (a much stronger, more unique band), he passed up the opportunity to write for the popular sitcom Seinfeld. All the time spent toiling in indie rock took a toll on Murphy, but he built his own studio and became increasingly adept at engineering and producing other bands.
While working on David Holmes' Bow Down to the Exit Sign, he struck up a relationship with programmer/producer Tim Goldsworthy that developed into a partnership. By the end of 2002, there were several releases on Murphy and Goldsworthy's DFA label, most of which involved the duo in some capacity. LCD's "Losing My Edge," backed with an excellent neo-post-punk dance track called "Beat Connection," was one of them. Murphy scattered three other LCD singles through the end of 2004 and released a self-titled full-length in January 2005. At the time of its release, the DFA label was more popular than ever; Murphy and Goldsworthy had remixes for Metro Area, N.E.R.D., Le Tigre, and Junior Senior behind them, as well as failed sessions with Britney Spears that might've benefitted from an interpreter. Janet Jackson was another unlikely admirer seeking the duo's assistance, but Murphy didn't bother to follow up on her request.
Murphy did respond to Nike, who commissioned him to record a lengthy piece of music as part of a promotion. 45:33, initially sold as an iTunes exclusive in October 2006, was aimed at joggers, but Murphy later confessed that he didn't jog himself — mixed martial arts were more his thing, he claimed — and was driven by the opportunity to make something in the vein of Manuel Göttsching's early-'80s electronic landmark E2-E4. (DFA would later issue 45:33 on CD, breaking the track into six parts and adding three additional cuts.) The second proper LCD Soundsystem album, Sound of Silver, was released in March 2007. It contained Murphy's most affecting songwriting and peaked within the Top 50 of the Billboard 200. Led by the single "Drunk Girls" and an accompanying Spike Jonze-directed video, LCD Soundsystem's third studio album, This Is Happening, was released three years later.
Following up Sound of Silver was never going to be easy for LCD Soundsystem. There was so much positive reaction from music fans, the press, from everywhere, really, that almost any move James Murphy made was bound to be seen as inferior, or at the very least, flawed in some way. To his credit, he doesn’t try to do anything dramatically different on This Is Happening. There are no attempts to hit the top of the charts (a point made crystal clear in the song “You Wanted a Hit”); conversely, there are no attempts to dirty up the sound or make it more challenging. There are no radically new elements added to the LCD sound, nothing subtracted either. Murphy is definitely a savvy enough musician to know when things have gotten stale and need to be changed up; he at some point must have decided (correctly) that the time for a reboot hadn’t arrived yet for LCD. Another record of long, dancefloor friendly disco-fied jams mixed with punchy rockers and paced with a couple introspective midtempo ballads is still perfectly acceptable, especially when it’s as tightly arranged, energetically played, and thoughtfully constructed as Happening is. Murphy’s highly skilled production is all over the record, from the squelchy layers of synths, the dry punch of the drums, and the tricks and surprises that bring the songs to life, to the way he makes it sound like a live band when it’s just him (though there are the occasional people helping out, most notably Nancy Whang on backing vocals). And while there isn’t a song as staggeringly emotional as Silver’s “All My Friends,” or as simply and heartfelt as its N.Y.C. tribute “New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down,” Murphy continues to expand as a songwriter and lyricist. He’s still the master of deadly zingers ("Eat it Michael Musto/You’re no Bruce Vilanch") and hilarious streams of lyrical gems (all of “Drunk Girls”), but songs like the nakedly emotional "I Can Change" (which includes the sweetly romantic plea for someone to “bore me and hold me and cling to my arm”) and the insistently melancholy “Somebody’s Calling Me” show continued growth and impressive range. Of course, if you aren’t all that interested in lyrics, artistic growth, and feelings, you can just crank up songs like "One Touch," "Pow Wow," or "Home" real loud and dance. At heart, Murphy remains a dance music producer and these tracks reveal him at the top of his game. This Is Happening doesn’t quite reach the monumental heights of Sound of Silver, but it serves as a almost-there companion and further proof that LCD Soundsystem is one of the most exciting and interesting bands around in the 2000s.
1 Dance Yrself Clean Murphy 8:56
2 Drunk Girls Mahoney, Murphy 3:42
3 One Touch Murphy 7:45
4 All I Want Murphy 6:41
5 I Can Change Mahoney, Murphy 5:55
6 You Wanted a Hit Murphy 9:06
7 Pow Pow Mahoney, Murphy 8:23
8 Somebody's Calling Me Murphy 6:53
9 Home Murphy 7:53