Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem
This Is Happening
Release Date: May 18, 2010 (US)
DFA Records

James Murphy makes it look so easy. The DFA Records co-founder has released two proper LPs and a handful of singles under his LCD Soundsystem musical project, and they have all essentially been winners. As time has gone on, Murphy has refined LCD’s sound, integrating elements of dance, punk, electronic and new-wave into his songs, coupled with thought-provoking lyrics that almost seem like they are too good for this highly infectious music. On This Is Happening, LCD’s third, and allegedly last, LP in five years, Murphy knocks it out of the park, combining all of the elements he loves to use into one unavoidably engrossing album.

The indie scene is littered with a plethora of experimental bands that receive critical acclaim. While LCD Soundsystem could loosely be called “experimental” with its disregard for genre singularity, This Is Happening lacks the barrier to entry that other experimental albums do: This is one album that anyone could jump into and enjoy.

There are certainly parallels to LCD’s stellar second LP, Sound of Silver. “Get Innocuous!” was the slow-building, new-wave/electronic jam of Sound of Silver; this time around, it’s “One Touch,” another eight minute session that almost demands the listener to dance. “All My Friends” and “Someone Great” were two of the best songs on Sound of Silver, let alone of the past decade (seriously). “All I Want” and “I Can Change” both do an exemplary job of providing two more back-to-back classics. The former harkens back to David Bowie’s “Heroes”, with the repetitious guitar droning and sporadic synth squeaks in the background as Murphy genuinely sings…about love. Over clich├ęd topic? Sure. However, there is a very real sense of sincerity and heartfelt emotion in the song, with amazingly good lyrics to further the conviction. When Murphy belts out “Take me home!” at the end of the song, it would take a truly cold heart to not be moved. “I Can Change” is a bit more upbeat sounding initially, with the bouncy electronic beat propelling the song. Again, the words standout, as Murphy convinces that special someone to “Never change / This is why I fell in love”, and also that he can change “if it helps you fall in love.” Murphy knows he is getting older, and this maturity is paying major dividends for his fans with another set of great, timeless classics.

However, just because he is getting older, does not mean he has forgotten to have fun. In addition to “One Touch”, “Drunk Girls” showcases Murphy’s sense of humor, contrasting the difference between drunk girls and drunk boys. Stop playing “Shots” at your party, and start playing this catchy dance-punk song instead. It is a good song, but to further emphasize the strength of the album, it may also be the weakest of the nine songs. “Pow Pow” is probably the best example of Murphy’s sarcastic lyrics and delivery on display, all backed by a sprawling, borderline disco sounding electronic sound.

Every track could have a mini-dissertation written about it, but the essential conclusion is this: LCD Soundsystem have made their best, and possibly last, album of their short existence. Also, with their incredible track record, that conclusion holds even more significance. Do not let the hyperbole surprise you: This is an impressive, cohesive, all-around meticulously crafted record that will endure the years, and it would be foolish not to give it a spin for free at

Rating: 4.5/5

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