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Music Review: LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

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This Is Happening is purportedly the last album LCD Soundsystem will make. It was always going to be hard for a band whose first single, “Losing My Edge” released in 2002, was an era-defining electro masterpiece, however James Murphy and Co. only went on to bigger and better things, releasing two full length albums of intelligent, unique dance music. This Is Happening is no different.

The album starts with “Dance Yrself Clean,” a nearly-nine minute long collation of electronic sounds which leads into a pumping bass beat. The song highlights Murphy’s evolution into a talented lyricist; lines like ‘talking like a jerk except you are an actual jerk’ intrigue and amuse, and the album is full of lines that revolve in your mind after a listen.

The following song “Drunk Girls” is seemingly the one and only radio-friendly song (the other eight tracks all run over five minutes, some almost double that) with its thumping refrain, and again showcases Murphy’s astute and humorous lyrics: ‘drunk boys keeping pace with the paedophiles’.

Like previous LCD albums, a lot of the best music comes from when Murphy works by himself. Both “One Touch” and “I Can Change” are done completely by Murphy (except for some yells by Nancy Whang in the “One Touch” refrain) and can both be considered as classic LCD tracks, building from minimal beats and glitches into an amazing mixture of sounds and rhythms which only get better with repeated listens. Sandwiched between these two tracks is perhaps the most interesting and best song of the album.

“All I Want” starts with a simple drum beat before a shameless rip of David Bowie’s Heroes guitar riff. Many critics may discount this song for the guitar alone; however Murphy uses it as a fan of music, rather than someone looking to make money from it. The guitar combined with a light piano chord progression and the perfectly delivered lyrics make for a beautiful song, and it continues to build with miscellaneous blips before closing with Murphy’s desperate cry of ‘take me home’.

The feeling of the band being at the end of an era and moving onto new paths resonates throughout the album, and is perhaps most obvious in the next track “You Wanted A Hit” which chronicles Murphy’s desire for a hit single, amidst oriental electro twangs, and how he deals with the pressures of tours, interviews and fame after the hit comes.

The next two songs are arguably the weakest on the album, but still demand a listen. The ambiguous lyrics of “Pow Pow” and comic refrain make for a unique song while the slow, jazzy piano chords on “Somebody’s Calling Me” punctuated with its long synth drones also is an interesting listen. The album (and possibly career?) closer is “Home” and the song, just like the album, does not disappoint. It begins with gurgling electro melodies before Murphy’s lyrics perfectly slot in and continue the message begun in “You Wanted A Hit;” he has lived his dream, and now its time to move on and go home as ‘it won’t get any better so goodnight’.

If this is to be the band’s last album it will be a great shame, not only for electronic music, but also for the industry as a whole. Not only did LCD Soundsystem make intelligent electro music that you could be moved by, as well as dance to, they also made music in the right way, for the right reasons. A truly great band that should be appreciated by all lovers of music.

My Top 5 Essential LCD tracks:
– “Losing My Edge”
– “Great Release”
– “Someone Great”
– “All My Friends”
– “All I Want”

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About Liam Curran

  • Emm

    Aaw, that is sad – why is this going to be their last album? This is actually the first of their albums I’ve truly enjoyed as a whole package.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Hell of a great album. Nice review, Liam.

  • Liam Curran

    Thanks Jordan. Yeah, I agree with both of you – probably their best album.

  • zingzing

    actually, it’s not going to be their last album. he just says he’s getting off the record-promote-tour train. they’re going to take it easy for a while, record some singles, etc, but they’re not done. he’s become successful enough that he doesn’t have to play that game. and the guy’s 40 years old. he doesn’t have the energy for all that. (not that you’d know it from his live show.)

    i think this is their best album as well. the first album was a bit of a letdown, compared to the singles that came before. and although nothing can touch “yeah” in my opinion, this thing is as solid an album as has come out all year.