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Dance Yrself Clean, the first track off LCD Soundsystem’s new album, This Is Happening, isn’t as striking or as powerful as Get Innocuous!. Or at least that’s how I felt at first. Get Innocuous! Knocked me off my feet when I first heard it. And it immediately roped me into this fantastical world James Murphy had made with Sound of Silver. Each song was instantly as powerful and charming as the last. But after a dozen or so more listens, Dance Yrself Clean revealed itself as the monster opener it is, mostly due to James Murphy’s projective voice that had me quivering and weak at the knees.
James Murphy is a king. Everybody knows that, even him. But he doesn’t let that effect his ego, but it does effect his music, it super cool! In a life where rapid and indigestible dance music riddles the lives of young and old that’s blared out everywhere, it’s refreshing to here a true disco album. It’s a triumphant return and Murphy has achieved something that seemed doubtful from lead single, Drunk Girls. And even that grew on me fast. But that just sums up Murphy’s music. This Is Happening quickly becomes an abundance. It’s over an hour long yet the album still seems to go by so fast. At times, This Is Happening can be romantic. I think Nancy Whang should scream the track title on every song. I mean, It’s the band’s best asset. It’s so simple but the tracks would be totally different without her heartfelt yelps.
Murphy and Dan Deacon are both fat and ageing men. Oh, and they both make electronic music from time to time. This is why I couldn’t help but compare the two because, although they apply similar characteristics to their albums, Murphy’s music is much more stripped down, with one long lasting rhythm throughout the whole song and the occasional drumbeat or cowbell appears every now and then. It’s too subjective to say which one is officially better, but personally, I prefer Deacon’s unconventional way of building his songs and to him, more is better in terms of song layers. This Is Happening seems to be a little scared to go further into it’s sound and just tip-toes around the core that Murphy should’ve dived right into, but instead stayed safe. His methods are understandable but songs like Pow Pow, which has nothing interesting going on for the entire nine minute length, bring the perfect production down a notch. This makes the album a little hit and miss in the second half, albeit more hit than miss.
It sounds like a rehash of everything he’s done before. Some songs sound almost identical to others from Sound of Silver and the self titled. And all the drum tracks seem recycled. I expected more of a progression (maybe I’m just used to other recent bands revamping their style with every album). But then I realised it’s not like Sound of Silver is radically different in style compared to the debut. It’s much more concise and refined, but not a revamp in sound. The brilliance of LCD Soundsystem is that its sonic identity is so distinct among other acts in the current musical landscape, it doesn’t need to reinvent its sound constantly in order to maintain relevance. No, This Is Happening doesn’t represent a facelift for LCD Soundsystem, but it’s still beautiful just the way it is.
Murphy has learned how not to just wear his influences on his sleeve, but to blend and homage them into his own solar system. Yes, you can argue that Drunk Girls suspiciously sounds like White Light/White Heat, but the way I see it is that it’s just an overture of this century’s rapid evolvement in music, and I’d like to say it’s just the beginning of LCD Soundsystem, but we all know it’s the end. At least he ended on his highest peak, his masterpiece.