Friday, July 30, 2010

Under lights we're all unsure

The latest in a series of long overdue album reviews . . .

This is Happening
LCD Soundsystem

Right off the bat: This is Happening is the best album of the year.

When I first heard the first single "Drunk Girls" and saw the amazing video, I thought, "Well this is different." But its catchiness caught me, and I was in love with this song. A few online reviewers said things like "This is no 'All My Friends'" or "'Drunk Girls' is not 'Someone Great'" or other such commentary, and my response was always, "No, it isn't, but neither is 'North American Scum' or 'Daft Punk is Playing at My House,' and those songs are still awesome." We cannot expect every single a band puts out to be as good as the greatest songs the group has put out (or this case, as good as some of the greatest songs ever). "Drunk Girls" is on the surface a very silly dance rock song. But closer inspection reveals more interesting things going on:
I've heard lies that could curdle your heartstrings
A couple truths, maybe burn out your eyes
Drunk boys leave their irons in the fireplace
'Cause drunk girls give them too many tries
Awesome. Plus the classic 60s rock song structure reminds me a little of The Beach Boys.

Now for the rest of the amazing album.

Opener "Dance Yrself Clean" deceives us, in multiple ways. First of all, many people who listened to the album for the first time probably had their ears blown out by the quiet opening three minutes. I thought, "Why is this album recorded so low?" and cranked the volume up, only to have the full volume kick in later in the song. I love both the quiet opening and the loud bulk of the song, and this opener beautiful establishes a recurring motif for the album: using nightlife to mask loneliness.
I miss the way the night comes
With friends who always make it feel good
This basement has a cold glow
Though it's better than a bunch of others

Another highlight is "All I Want." I've read a few online reviews make comparisons to David Bowie here, and I can definitely see that. Regardless, this mid-tempo, fuzzed-out song becomes a profound reflection on loneliness, ending with the plaintive request, "Take me home." Wonderful.

But the true highlight of the album is "I Can Change," which is quite simply the best song of the year. I listen to this song every day, and I love it more and more each time. With a very 80s synth-pop feel, James Murphy laments the ironies of love, and though the song is upbeat and pop-infused, it tugs my heartstrings and, like the best songs, moves my soul. And Murphy pokes fun and his own lyrical abilities, not giving himself enough credit for crafting deep pop songs:
And love is a curse
Shoved in a hearse
Love is an open book to a verse
Of your bad poetry
. . . and this is coming from me
I feel it.

Murphy brings the humor back with the ironic and upbeat "You Wanted a Hit," which I assume is a song written to record company suits: "You wanted a hit? Well this is how we do hits. You wanted a hit? Well that's not what we do." A most ironic feature is the instrumental synth opening, which is as poppy as anything LCD Soundsystem has done, but the poppiness transforms into classic LCD.

What can I say about "Pow Pow"? This trippy spoken word number seems improvised, but the music is so cool and the words are so cleverly strange that I think a lot of work went into it. I don't really know what's going on here, but I can't get enough of "Pow Pow."
Advantages, advantages!

The closing song on the album proves to be one of the most gorgeous and moving songs, and ranks right up there in LCD Soundsystem's catalog. And once again, Murphy has crafted a sublimely beautiful song about the glory and forgetting that comes with being with friends, and the loneliness that awaits us. The beat and the guitar combine with the elegant melody and make one of the most profound dance songs to come along in a long time.
If you're afraid of what you need
If you're afraid of what you need
Look around you, you're surrounded
It won't get any better

Until the night

Here are some mp3s for you:


Post a Comment

<< Home