on 24 February 2011
It is debatable whether the third album from the musical genius that is James Murphy is an improvement on the other two, but it is new and it is the same LCD Soundsystem that you (should) know and love. A trademark of this band is the repetition, they hammer these beats and synths into your brain and they reward you with the climax that these songs deserve.
This album has an extreme sense of completeness, the first track (Dance Yrself Clean) is one of the best introductory songs I have heard on an album. It meanders for a few minutes, captivating in it's repetition before the drop at which point it's pent up energy is let loose on the listener and the album flows seamlessly from this point. The album finishes with the track Home, which is the highlight of the record, Murphy weaves a multitude of instruments that blend and fragment perfectly, and his voice bursts forth in the peak of the album before he sighs 'So Goodnight' - which in retrospect since Murphy has said he is going to stop making music and concentrate on producing with his label DFA, is a farewell to the listeners, and a beautiful one at that. I saw LCD in Cardiff in November, in what I suppose is their last tour, and they ended with this song. Immediately after he wished the crowd goodnight and thanked us all before leaving. It was magnificent.
Said to be LCD Soundsystem's last record, "This Is Happening" is a masterful record : an album. In the days when an album is an outdated concept, a obsolete way of pushing music as a cohesive work where we'd al rather just have a few MP3's instead of the whole thing, "This Is Happening" is the sound of someone making brilliant, fun music with an intelligent perspective and a boatload of equipment. The songs on this - averaging at least seven minutes - are coiled springs, dense with rhythms and melodies that build and fall, rise and pound, with nods to the elegant arpeggios of Kraftwerk, oodles of brilliant words that mock established convention, swathes of guitar and keen, able percussion creating a thick, but never overcrowded aural soup. At 70 minutes, it's a strong, solid length that ventures into familiar territory, and adds another new and vibrant dimension.
Bowie comparisons are obvious - not just in the lyrical stylings, breathy short vocal lines, and instrumentation, as well as lashings of Byrne and Eno. Imagine the imaginative work of Bowie 76-80, updated to today, and with slightly less po-faced misery and you have LCD's awesome work. Tiny bleeps and bloops - childlike in simplicity and durable as a bulletproof vest - leak over every second of this album.
"Drunk Girls" is "White Light/White Heat" covered by Bowie. End of story. Not that that is a bad thing. "All I Want" takes the droning whalesong of "Heroes" and makes it modern and now. "I Can Change" has probably the most brilliant synth line you've ever heard. And "Pow Pow" ends (Sort Of) on one of the most well used expletives in music history.
And then there is the best titled song on the record "You Wanted A Hit (But We Don't Do Hits)" which grandly lays out LCD's raison d'etre. To follow your own nose and see where that smell goes. Every song is epic in length, style, in long and inticate melodies, and hammer home the old adage of Joy In Repetition, and what joy there is. If this is a end point, then at least they left us this, a record that will live longer than us ; a fabulous mesh of man, machine, and magnificence. "This Is Happening" is what our realities are - the here, the now, the world and the moment in front of us. Carpe Diem.
on 9 August 2010
This is an unforgettable kaleidoscope of sonic mastery delivered in an almost manic and wonderfully disinhibited way. It's a musically complex and diverse album with a vast range of influences but at the same time being incredibly uplifting and easy to listen to. Lyrically it always interesting as well, being emotive, cutting and amusing often within the same track. It sounds quite unlike any other major release so far this year and while it nods in the direction of David Bowie and Talking Heads amongst others it is unmistakeably LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy is clearly some kind of inspired genius but were are told this is the last LCD release. Such is life...
There have been a lot of decent albums released already this year but the bottom line is that none have been as truly enjoyable to listen as this absolutely essential classic.
on 8 June 2010
Ok ok, this might be against the flow of reviews here, and I certainly don't think this is in anyway a bad album. In fact it's one of the best of the year so far. The problem is you have to judge it in relation to the rest of the LCD soundsystem output. And in my humble opinion it's their least interesting record. Their debut, yeah it's uneven and messy, but it's a stroke of genius and far more creative and important than anything they've done since, the second disc of that album is still their finest hour. By miles. Sound of Silver is certainly a grower, I wasn't blown away at first, but it does get under your skin, and is I think the most successful 'album' in terms of listening to it beginning to end without skipping tracks.
This is Happening certainly has it's moments, the opening track is probably the best here, with its off kilter electro melody. Drunk Girls is LCD Soundsystem single by numbers, and is perfectly fine, but not quite as good as North American Scum, which in turn was not quite as good as Daft Punk is Playing at my House. The main body of the rest of the album is full of clever electronic pop, and it's hard really to take issue with any tracks. But I think that might be my problem with it, it all sounds a bit safe. With tracks like I can Change, You wanted a hit, and One Touch, there's nothing there that I don't like. But, there's nothing there that I haven't heard before. Tracks either sound like Too Much Love from the first album or All my Friends from the second album. With the first few listens tracks did seem to blur into each other and not really stand out in the way perhaps Get Innocuous! or Tribulations do. And Somebody's Calling Me is... a little bit rubbish... I suspect it will grow on me, and I may in time see it as an equal to sound of silver (as it is really sound of silver part II). But give me disc 2 of their debut any day.
on 11 November 2010
James Murphy returns with what may be the last LCD Soundsystem offering, if press reports earlier this year are to be believed. One might be disappointed to hear that the album demonstrates the law of diminishing returns, in that each album has been worse than the last. However, to go from brilliant to excellent to good is no disgrace. The trademark LCD sound is in full effect throughout. The songs are more lyrical than ever, and I for one found that the slightly heart-rending 'I Can Change' struck a chord. Each listener may find their own connection, if only in the raucous 'Drunk Girls'. The production is expertly executed, but perhaps a bit too smoothly, the lo-fi charm of the first album being largely absent. There are no real anthems a la 'Tribulations' or 'North American Scum', but I found all tunes to be agreeable, and the tone sufficiently varied to maintain interest. Sometimes albums that do not make a strong first impression prove to be among the most durable, and that is a possibility here.
on 10 June 2010
3 tracks are bearable (as background music) - dance yrself clean, drunk girls, i can change, but the rest? jeeez, terrible. Overly long, turgid, and dull. The first 'album' (2 CDs too!!) was full of ideas and directions, the second album was ok, and had it's moments but overall lacked the spark that Tim Goldsworthy provided via his production wizardry, and now this, which sounds like B-sides from 'Sound Of Silver'.
The creative well has most certainly run dry, and coincides with the decline of the hip dance disco from the other side of the atlantic. Dance Yrself Clean ambles along pleasantly enough but is a bit of a copy of The Pool's 'Jamaica Running', following on from the lack of originality in the 2nd Juan Maclean (i forgave LCD for the similarity of Telex Moscow Discow carl craig remix to 'Get Innocuous' on the last album, btw). There are references to plenty of 80s stuff, and some uninspired Bowie-esque bits n bobs, but it's served up in a lifeless, sterile way that to listen to the whole album is a slog with many annoyances along the way, leaving you wanting to shout 'pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow' as you punch the CD into next week. My main gripe with many of the tracks here is the length of them. You can't justify making tracks, that aren't really for dancing, that carry on for 7+ minutes if they plod along so aimlessly - at least if they're 3 or 4 minutes you only have to hear the same idea with no progression (other than the occassional tacked on 'building wall' noise) for a few repetitions, but over 9 minutes it gets seriously trying, leaving you thinking 'skip button' or 'only half way through this one, really???'
I'll be listening to great lcd soundsystem tracks like 'give it up','losing my edge','north american scum', 'tribulations', 'disco infiltrator' and a few others from time to time for years to come, but this won't get another listen. LCD Soundsystem...your time is up.
Full of recognisably James Murphy (the husky gentlemans' last hero) beats, to the point where you wonder if he's recycled some directly from previous tracks, or accidentally re-written exactly the same components. It's not that the songs are the same, just that elements within them are beyond familiar. He's gotten bitten by the 'epic' bug too - average track length is seven minutes twenty, I know this because I've done the maths. Loves a slow build and a laboured outro does our James. Not all the songs support that so well. I found myself longing for a change of pace - something sharp and huge that would blitz in and then breeze out forcing a rush of fresh sounds through the middle of the disc. That never comes. Maybe it needs to be listened to differently? Of this handful of albums bought recently, it's the one I've played least but was most looking forward to. Not sure what that suggests? I mean, I'm enjoying it and all but it feels hard work at times.
on 20 April 2010
I loved the last 2 albums, but always thought they were 3 or 4 star albums, not as good as they could have been. This one is 100% on the money!! Mentions of bowie are not a million miles off vocal wise. It starts slow and simple on the first track 'Dance Yrself Clean' building up in into a wonderful mess of digital and organic noise. If you liked 'North American Scum' and 'Daft Punk are Playing At My House' you'll be loving next track 'Drunk Girls', similar in style and unsuprisingly the safest single to release. That doesn't take anything away from it's infectious beauty.
From then on in every track is awesome, the upbeat lively tracks are full of gorgeous sounds, the drums are spot on and the snyths have never sounded better. This is probably one of my albums of the year already and its not even in my hands yet. :)
on 30 June 2010
This album has a really good groove. The mixture among many different genres which characterises LCD Soundsystem's work is made even better in this work. The acid base does not cover the sound experience but gives a kind of flavour to the overall acoustic perception. Even if the electronic experiment is considerably relevant here, both the lyrics and the rock rhythm (Drunk girls) give a pop-song and easy-listenable-and-danceble feeling that would help the project in reaching a broader audience while keeping old-time fans.
on 7 August 2013
A great addition to my collection of music. A bit out of the ordinary & very danceable to. Only knew a few of the tracks but happy with the ones I didn't know too.