LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver(Capitol) Buy it from Insound
Here's a confession, not a disclaimer: I don't like listening to dance music, I like dancing to it. So it was with some trepidation that I took on the task of reviewing the new album by LCD Soundsystem. I had heard the buzz. I had checked out their last one, hailed as if it were the second coming. Sounded cool. Couldn't wait to hear it on the dance floor. Never did. Apart from the temperature, I don't live in a very cool section of the globe.
Now Sound of Silver drops, literally the second coming of LCD, and the supine worship has begun. It's already the highest scored album of the year on metacritic.com, and it seems likely to stay at or near the top. It was time to take this seriously.
One more confession first: I think electronic music as a genre is over-hyped and over-praised. Just as every halfway decent rap album is the greatest thing since Mozart, good electronica gets hyperbole-ed to death simply because of its natural inferiority complex which arises from the fact that "something else", namely a pc, is doing much of the work. You can lay down the most soulful vocal on earth on top of the funkiest rhythm imaginable; at the end of the day no human heart beats with the regularity of all those ones and zeroes.
But say one thing for this music, and this album in particular - it can be infectious and fun. James Murphy's ironic vocal on Time to Get Away sets the scene. His strained falsetto has the uninhibited intensity of a drunk teen at a kegger, and more power to the thirty-something Murphy. This sense of abandon only gets wilder on North American Scum, whose irony is damaged by implicating the Canadians, though the lyrical failings are transcended by a deliciously maniacal performance. Moving on, Someone Great is the best mid-80's British dance hit you never heard, and it feeds directly into the brilliant All My Friends, with its hammering piano fifths, making the most out of repetition in the great tradition of Can and VU. On these two tracks, the vocal acrobatics are restrained and the contrast is emotive, revealing a heart beneath the digital surface. The sequencing here of these tracks, midway through and sandwiched between several joyous dance workouts, is too effective to be accidental.
So perhaps this is why the closing ballad, New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down, doesn't shock as much as it otherwise would. It's mostly just piano, bass and real drums (?), and is a tender lament for Murphy's home city. Shouldn't this be on some other album? No. It's clear from what has come before that LCD can churn out a traditional tune with the best of them, amid the rhythmic ornamentation.
So let's this wrap this up by saying that, despite my reservations about the form, LCD has made the most of it. There's real intelligence here, as well as real emotion and real fun; a winning combination. I'd be surprised if the genre can produce anything much better than this.22 March, 2007 - 12:28 — Alan Shulman