What is "disco-punk," exactly? Exhibit A whenever the term comes up is LCD Soundsystem, New York producer (and co-founder of label DFA Records) James Murphy's pet project. His first disc, 2005's LCD Soundsystem, married dance rhythms to a punk perspective, anchored by Murphy's jaded, deadpan yelp. A wry, seen-it-all snarkiness pervaded his early efforts like "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" or "Losing My Edge" (a song where a man's worst nightmare is that his record collection isn't cool enough). It all added up to superbly catchy postmodern dance-rock that never sacrificed intelligence for the beat. But could Murphy follow up his initial hit, and wouldn't his ironically cool pose get old after a while?
Indeed, with Sound Of Silver LCD Soundsystem has grown up a little bit – but still can make you dance as hard as ever. The new album is leavened with a dose of weary maturity, the sound to accompany a hip young club hopper looking in the mirror to realize there's gray hair and wrinkles sprouting. What do you do when you've outgrown the scene? When does so-called "real life" begin?
The emotional heart of Sound of Silver comes in the one-two introspective punch of "Someone Great" and "All My Friends," a seamless reverie and elegy that ripples into a beautiful bliss. "Someone Great" is a New Order-esque ode to someone gone – dead, perhaps, or merely out of the picture, filled with telling little details ("I miss the way we used to argue / locked in the basement"), while "All My Friends" is a bleary-eyed last call to missed chances and old hangouts ("You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan / and the next five years trying to get with your friends again"). Murphy is crafting a soundtrack for aging hipsters and discovering irony isn't enough to carry you into your 40s. Even if you've never been to a club in your life, you'll find an emotional resonance here.
That's not to say Sound of Silver is one big maudlin confessional. The jumpy first single, "North American Scum," is a sing-along satire of the post-9/11 zeitgeist filled with punchy one-liners. Opening track "Get Innocuous!" is a slow-burning drift that feels like a lost Bowie/Eno collaboration from Low. "Us V Them" is a stomping club anthem that says rhythm can eradicate any problem. And the winking hi-hats, claps and bleeps of "Sound of Silver" power the album's manifesto – the same goofily true lyric chanted over and over again like a mantra: "Sound of silver talk to me / makes you want to feel like a teenager / until you remember the feelings of a real-life emotional teenager / then you think again." The mellow "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" wraps up the disc with a wistful Sinatra by way of Pet Shop Boys crooner.