Music Reviews
This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening

(DFA) Rating - 10/10

James Murphy is a badass. Beyond that, he’s a classy badass. He’s the wittiest lyricist working today, a fantastic musician, can make a song work for eight minutes with nothing but a repetitive loop and an enchanting vocal performance, and, in his middle age, has made a string of three near perfect albums. Now he’s done, but with a flawless legacy, one that was not only fun but full of social contemplation, the most heartbreaking of break-up songs and one of the most instantly nostalgic albums (2007’s Sound of Silver) ever made. He’s a testament to his subgenre and to indie music as a whole. He can light up a live stage like few others can, with a charisma unmatched by even the smoothest of politicians.

I decided against simply writing an ode to his undeniable genius and finest album for a review. That’s not a review, that’s retarded. He’s made the best album of what’s shaping up to be a pretty great year and completed his own personal Berlin Trilogy- something he pays clear homage to on This Is Happening. The Bowie influence became increasingly apparent with each passing album, and it hits its peak with the best Heroes ripoff ever, All I Want. It’s got the same utterly shattering feeling that Someone Great did. It’s Murphy at his most personal, crying “take me home” while being drowned out by his band. Wearing his love for Bowie on his sleeve for all to see serves him well - this album is the most lyrically focused LCD outing and the most uncompromising, with most songs breaking the six minute mark and a few breaking nine. It’s not just a great dance album; it’s a great pop album.

The whole album takes on the personal tones that he began to explore with his previous album. Dance Yrself Clean is a wonderfully powerful opener, pondering the ups and downs in basic human relationships. He continues to deliver the most pointed, observant and funny  thoughts on the upbeat Drunk Girls, with lines like “drunk girls know that love is an astronaut, it comes back but it’s never the same.”

The album is just as good musically as lyrically. It’s produced and mixed without a flaw, something we’ve come to expect from LCD Soundsystem. The composition is complex without being overbearing, instruments and sounds drop in and out with amazing frequency, yet it manages never to take center stage. There’s no ego in any of the musical performances, every note is played for the sake of the song. Its flow is never interrupted by any change in direction, though the shifts are numerous. The only potential complaint is that it treads water, that it’s not as much of a stylistic jump from Sound of Silver as that album was from their debut. That sentiment doesn’t hold up past one listen. Despite the occasional similarities, it’s simply better and can be played for hours on end.

James Murphy had said that he would make three albums as LCD Soundsystem. According to my CD player, which says “The Last Album” on the screen whenever I play This Is Happening, he’s keeping to it. He’s leaving behind three unique albums, each with their own style and feeling. LCD Soundsystem was a painfully self-aware party; Sound of Silver was instantaneously nostalgic for friends, love and painfully self-aware parties; This Is Happening is looking back on a life well lived and well learned, the final cap on a perfect career.