Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Best of 2010

Song: Home
Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Album: This is Happening

LCD Soundsystem's 2007 album "Sound of Silver" was one of my favorites of the year.  An album that sounded great upon first listen and unfolded new layers and complexity with repeated listens.  And at its center, the gorgeous, pulsating, emotional "All My Friends" still gets me every time... and I find it to be the perfect antidote for being a bit down, as its got a knowing emotional heaviness that rings completely true.  I think it's one of the best songs of the decade.

So it was with much anticipation that this years follow-up, and apparent final album, "This is Happening" arrived... how would it measure up?  How could this be the end?  And how do I cope with being let down a bit from first single "Drunk Girls?"  Well... you just let it all sink in.  As there is reality... and you can be afraid of what you need.

In all honestly "This is Happening" was a bit of a letdown to me initially.  While opener "Dance Yrself Clean" was a revelation, and unquestionably blew me away, I found the album to be a bit plodding... the several eight minute-plus tracks just too... much.  But a bit of time, and a random listen to the final track "Home" at just the right time made me go back and REALLY listen.  And wouldn't you know, "This is Happening" finally spoke to me, and I realized it had to, needed to, make my year's end list.

Given the now depressing thought that this might be the end of LCD as we know it, what is clear is that lead James Murphy has created quite the three-album arch that marries the immediacy of post-punk, Eno-era Bowie, and dance music that presents itself as something else... and yet is comprised sometimes very simply... of a loop repeated to almost infinity.  And yet on "Happening," those eight-minute plus songs with these repeated loops build in ways you almost don't realize while it's happening.  Just as "All My Friends" did.

What "Happening" is really all about is Murphy shedding the hipster referencing, the witty-yet-attached lyricism of "Losing My Edge" to a more emotional take on life itself.  The man turned 40, and that milestone possibly effected what "Happening" turned out to be.  From the "Heroes"-esque "All I Want" to the emotional "I Can Change," the songs seem to reflect that Murphy's figured some things out in life, and he's put them to song.

I read a recent interview with Murphy who said he hates the term "electronic" in terms of his music.  He likes "disco" better because back in the day that dance music wasn't about just pushing play on a computer, put playing music live.  Disco bands were bands, and while I've never seen them live, LCD's albums bridge that gap from post-punk rock to club music.  It's all very organic and raw.

And that final track; "Home" really drives the album... well, home.  It does feel like the end of something, turning around to see where you've been, all that's happened, and reflecting.  While I'd listened to it a couple times when the album came out it was only recently that I really heard it.  It's got the loops and build of the other tracks, incorporates some Talking Heads afro-beat, and then lyrically... it's raw James Murphy, equal parts melancholy and hopeful.  It's alright.  It's all alright.

"This is Happening" is more than alright.

And please please please if you haven't heard anything from this album yet, scroll down to "Dance Yrself Clean," the first track, put on some headphones, and listen to it in its entirety.  It's SUCH a mindblower.



All I Want

Dance Yrself Clean

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