Sometimes with an album review it’s difficult to properly convey the range of emotions that are expressed throughout a record. Not so with the newest, post-breakup album by seminal New York band LCD Soundsystem. Six years ago the band disappeared, and with that their sonically danceable music seemed to belong to the history books. They have since reunited for their first new material since This is Happening. With the new album, American Dream, the band has not only returned; they’re picking up exactly where they left us years ago.
Opening with “Oh Baby” is a bold and risky move. It lacks the more immediate reverberations and hip-shaking qualities as other album openings, but that’s not to say it’s an odd choice. In fact it works very well and pretty much sets the stage for the rest of the alternative dance party we’re exposed to over the course of the nearly 70-minute album. The lushly textured track isn’t in your face, but it acts as a doorway to an event that must not be missed. From there, Murphy, Wong, Mahoney and company find their groove and it’s off to the races. “Other Voices” harkens back to the classic LCD Soundsystem sound, but it’s patient in its movements.
In addition to “Other Voices”, “Change Yr Mind” channels the Talking Heads but modernized. The songs are reminders of how LCD Soundsystem are able to take the music of their inspirations and make them refreshing. They look and hear and acknowledge everything they’ve learned, but they are very much 100% LCD Soundsystem.
That being said, the band still isn’t content to play it safe. “How Do You Sleep?” opens with a very electronic-oriented vibe, led by a pulsating drum beat. It’s tribal in its delivery, but Murphy’s creeping voice fits within the esoteric nature of the song. The strings in the background make it noticeably darker and more sinister than the majority of the other songs on the album. Over the course of the nine-plus minute track, the elements all blend together and grow in fervor. If ever there was an LCD Soundsystem song that fit hand-in-hand with a late-night bonfire in the wilderness, it’s this one. In short, they still have the ability to awe the listener and motivate them to keep going.
As the record unfolds, it grows in its ingenuity. “Tonite” could be a Tron relative. We all know how Murphy feels about Daft Punk, and this song is perhaps the best representative of that love. The French duo’s influence is heard throughout the entire track – from the tempo to the electronic beat. However, it doesn’t sound like they’re stealing or walking on the shoulders of giants, but rather a nod of appreciation to the greats.
As the album nears its final quarter, one of the most traditionally sounding LCD songs on the album veers its head. ”Emotional Haircut” is a silly named song in the vein of earlier works like “North American Scum” or “Drunk Girls”, but that’s where the connections end. The drums are phenomenal and all encompassing. The chanting of the title also works very well even if its title gives you a chuckle.
The shiny, disco ball-filled vibrance of “Call the Police” follows, and it is prototypical LCD Soundsystem. It’s lyrically strong, and the music seems destined to be used in a film where people are endlessly trying to find their place in the world. It’s also seems like a “fuck you” to all the people who have second-guessed the band throughout their career. The band then changes gear slightly with the title track. The keyboards and synths are paramount, and, while the vocals are well mixed and produced, the beat takes over the power of the song as a whole.
American Dream, the newest album from this brilliantly consistent band, proves that time apart can lead to something truly ingenious. While this might not be an album that instantly speaks to people, it grows stronger with each listen. With each turn, the album transforms into something extremely tangible and emotional that it seems poised to take up many high spots on the forthcoming “Album of the Year” lists. It might not currently be their best record, but at the very least it stands as another nearly perfect album. Jump on board: you’re likely to fall in love with the band’s new, shiny, energetic American Dream.
LCD Soundsystem are Murphy and a whole cast of people, including at any given time: Pat Mahoney, Phil Mossman, Tyler Pope, Nancy Whang, Matt Thornley, Al Doyle, David Ascot Stone, Gavin Russom, Jerry Fuchs, J.D. Mark, Phil Skarich, Justin Chearno, and Korey Richey.
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