Two weeks ago at the bar I DJ at, I threw on the first track “Dance Yrself Clean” from LCD Soundsystem’s (aka James Murphy) new album This is Happening. I stood there giddy like a little kid, just waiting for the explosion to happen around 3 minutes in. I thought to myself, “this is going to rock their fucking worlds, or at least get a few heads bobbing.” Then it kicked in, the massive synth, the syncopated rhythm, the cowbell. I looked for bobbing heads. Instead I saw turning heads, looking up to me like “what the hell is this kid doing”. That’s when I knew this record was even better than I thought. As “Dance Yrself Clean” returned to where it began and back again I knew I was going to play this song so many times over the next few months that I’d end up overdosing on it. I sent three text messages and 1 phone call to John the day I got my hands on the album. I hadn’t been this excited to hear a new record in a long time. If we were still in the days of land lines, I’m pretty sure I would have made the operator do an emergency break-through if his line was busy to tell him about this album.
LCD Soundsystem has been around a while. His debut release contained danceable hooks that were smarter than the rest of the pack. His second record Sound Of Silver had one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard in my life, “Someone Great”, that hearkened back to the Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” with a perfect blend of a repetitive, catch beat, and perfect layering without overdoing it. That’s when I started listening closer to Murphy’s music and lyricism. It’s also when I started noticing what a great voice he actually has. Sometimes when instrumentation and production are beat heavy you forget to pay attention to the singer.
The new record is an absolute perfect combination of just about every type of music I’ve ever come to love. Murphy strikes me as the type of guy that would be pissed if I described his music as the new definition of cool, or compare the songs on this album to other artists. Luckily he doesn’t read The Giant Panther. In This Is Happening I hear tinges of Devo, The Talking Heads, Kraftwerk, and Bowie. Take this all with a grain of salt, as I make these comparisons I fail to mention that these songs are uniquely his own. These aren’t “James Murphy tries to sound like Devo. These are songs that make you think “James Murphy listened to damn good music growing up”. I’m a little surprised it took him three albums to get here. The only exception would be the track “All I Want”, in my opinion, while a great song, the production comes a little too close to Heroes by David Bowie with that same great Eno layered echoing distorted guitar.
Even the album cover itself is perfect. It looks like it could have easily been sitting in a stack of vinyl at a used records store for decades. With the skinny tie, 80s dance move frozen in time, and black and white photo with colored lettering, and tilting of the image, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if they even added a little circle shaped cover wear to finish the effect.
I have a feeling that years from now, the next generation of music lovers will dust this album off, and think to themselves how cool those days must have been. Kind of what I do now with early 80s post punk/new wave bands. I wasn’t old enough to experience the scene back then, but every time I put on a great album I think how cool it must have been to watch these artists develop. I’d be interested to hear what everyone else has to say about this record. I wonder if it hit anybody as hard as it has me.
You can order the “This Is Happening” special album-pack including a double vinyl copy of the record , CD, digital copy, and t-shirt at their website.
Download This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem here
LCD Soundsystem on the web