Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Oh James Murphy...where have you been all my life? I just discovered his music this past winter, and to tell the you truth it didn't click with me until about 2 months ago. At first I didn't understand all the praise and hub-bub, but nowadays I can't stop listening to his music. He's just that good. He takes sounds (and sometimes entire songs) you've heard before and molds them into his own personal mix of music that both makes you think and makes you dance.

"This Is Happening" is LCD Soundsystem's third full-length release, coming a little over three years after the fantastic "Sound of Silver." He's finally perfected the hybrid of dance and rock that he's become so famous for. This is not your typical dance/rock LP though, this album contains some of the deepest lyrics I've ever heard in this realm of music.

Every classic album has a truly great opener, from The White Album's 'Back in the USSR' to Pinkerton's 'Tired of Sex,' they perfectly set the mood for the rest of the album, and let you know what's in store. James Murphy has done not only that, but he's also created one of the best songs this reviewer has ever heard in the form of 'Dance Yrself Clean,' a perfect mix of lyrics, sound and dynamic. It starts with an extremely sparse bassline and a few keys, and totally erupts at around the 3 minute mark, if this song doesn't blow you away, nothing ever will.

The album continues with a song that Murphy himself has dubbed as being "dumb," but that doesn't make it a bad song by any means. 'Drunk Girls' is in the same vein as 'Watch The Tapes' and 'Daft Punk is Playing at My House,' they're not the most serious songs he's done, but they are fun and a bit of a breather from the rest of his headier songs.

Murphy may be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts (he just turned 40), but this has made his lyrics mature in a way previously unimaginable. On 'Losing My Edge,' his first single back in 2002, he lamented that he wasn't as hip as the new wave of "cool kids" that were invading his territory. Now he's sing about longing for another person's touch and believing in waking up together. He seems to be far removed from his earlier mind-set but he's also just as aware as he's ever been.

"Now all I want is your pity, all I want are your bitter tears," he sings on 'All I Want,' his take on David Bowie's 'Heroes.' This is the sound of a man taking a song that he's probably heard a thousand times and truly making it his own. It's a highlight of the album, with a constantly circling guitar line and synth that gets completely out of control by the end.

'I Can Change' has an early Gary Numan-esque keyboard part that immediately gets stuck in your head from the opening bars. Later on in the album he claims that he doesn't make hits, but that's exactly what he does here. "I can change...if it helps you fall in love," is one of the best choruses he's ever written and his voice gets right to your heart with it's pure honesty.

The album continues with 'Pow Pow' with it's typical Murphy rants that he's used in earlier songs, but somehow he's able to make it sound new and refreshing again. It segues quite nicely into the mostly piano-driven 'Somebody's Calling Me,' with it's story of missed connections and eventual hook-ups.

The album closer 'Home,' is a very heartfelt song about longing to be there and eventually realizing that no matter what you do, it won't get any better. To Murphy, "Home" is the perfect place where everything is in it's right place and you can just shut out the world and think. It's an easy song to relate to and another classic in the making.

As I've alluded to earlier, Murphy puts forth some of his best vocals/lyrics of his career on "This Is Happening," making this a true thinking man's album. The music has never sounded better either, with instrumentals that constantly surprise and excite the listener.

He's said that this is LCD's final album, and in many ways it's his "Abbey Road," the perfect end to a career. One hopes however that they can continue on in the future. When you hit a creative zenith like LCD has on this album, you only want to hear more.

In the end, I believe it to be far superior to both their self-titled debut and "Sound Of Silver," and I wouldn't be surprised if it tops a lot of lists come this December.

Best Tracks:
Dance Yrself Clean
All I Want
I Can Change
Pow Pow
Somebody's Calling Me

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