Album of the Week: LCD Soundsystem | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Album of the Week: LCD Soundsystem

American Dream Out Now via Columbia/DFA

Sep 01, 2017 Bookmark and Share

Find It At: AMAZON

When LCD Soundsystem announced their official return at Christmas 2015, more people were upset about it than you'd think. Having left us at their prime, James Murphy's bohemian brigade released an grandiose but heart-warming final concert movie called Shut Up and Play the Hits. It's a lot of fanfare for the terminus of a band who had only really been making moves for six years. And yet, people were hurt. Betrayed, even. Murphy, a man who has always operated with a six-foot ironic distance to all and every thing, had gone back on his word. There were a lot of unresolved issues in the fanbase: mainly, LCD means a lot to people and backpedaling on finality to, potentially, sell out Madison Square Garden seems disingenuous.

However, many fans attested that the infamous New York Times interview, wherein Murphy owes some of the whirlwind comeback to wanting to capitalise on the band's success, is a cover for what Murphy's true intention is: being back in LCD Soundsystem. Why the New York troupe feel so vital is because Murphy sculpted it into a band that feels vital to him. Building something from nothing, that's the American dream; as is this new album.

American Dream is, from the warm, thick synth tones to the copious presence of cowbell, an album for LCD fans. It wrestles with insecurity, loneliness and friendship, like all great LCD tracks and wears its self-awareness like a badge of pride. Take "Tonite," while Murphy lambasts the current state of contemporary music-"And all the hits are saying the same thing"-with full cognizance that his brand of Talking Heads-aping dance is fed by the sensibilities the masses worship. 

Likewise, the LCD references come thick and fast. "Other Voices" is immediately recognizable by the slow-burn and looping electronics of "Time to Get Away" while "How Do You Sleep?," potentially the strongest track on the record, shimmers with shades of "Someone Great" but delivered with a less sentimental attitude. Potentially a nod to the abrasive times we live in. While Murphy has always worn his disillusionment with the status quo on his sleeve, the track rumbles with a patient tribalism, scoping the enemy. This is before the drop that comes with the bright, trademarked synth riffs that feel empowering in times of helplessness. That's the LCD guarantee.

"American Dream," performed during LCD Soundsystem's first appearance on Saturday Night Live, is a world-weary extrapolation of how a series of rough nights can steamroll one's self worth. At least that's how I interpret it: LCD has that effect on me. This is at odds to "Emotional Haircut," which, for all it's loose-lipped sing-talk and scratchy guitars, serves as a reminder that the first LCD album is a fan-favourite for some. And this throwback could be justified by a number of reasons: to sate the early supporters or maybe to provide a full album synopsis of LCD Soundsystem's career so far?

But therein lies what LCD Soundsystem has always been about: it's cerebral music, that's for sure, but don't think too hard about it. "All My Friends," for example, is a curiosity of feeling lost in time and deep seated abandonment but to me, it just makes me miss my friends.

James Murphy needs to make the music he believes in, and LCD Soundsystem has always been that. Even if the terms of the band's breakup were confusing, American Dream will outlast the cynical climate and find a home outside of the headlines and in our hearts.

Read our review of American Dream.





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