When LCD Soundsystem’s debut, self-titled album arrived five years ago, I didn’t quite understand why it received all the praise that it did. I enjoyed some of the songs on it and especially adored the bonus disc of singles and remixes that preceded it. Over time, my appreciation for the album as a whole grew, and when Sound Of Silver hit, it lodged in my top 10 for that year and may have even climbed higher since then.
Needless to say, I had high expectations for This Is Happening, and damned if it hasn’t met them. Oddly enough, the group has released the most over-the-top (and obnoxious, and definitely least-subtle) song as the first single from the release, but despite it’s raucous frat-boy energy, “Drunk Girls” still charms the pants off me. It’s probably due to the shift during the last minute that takes it from simple arm-pumping holler-along to something quite sublime. That, and the rinky-dink keyboard melody that plinks and plonks throughout. Murphy has to have at least one of these types of cuts per album, but he’s gotten better over time at making them fit into their surroundings, and while it still feels a bit out-of-touch next to the more extended workouts, it’s not as obvious as “North American Scum” and the like.
At any rate, I came here to praise this release, because I can literally let it run without stops and not find much to fault. Craft-wise, it’s easily the most solid thing that LCD Soundsystem has done, while at the same time having a great amount of highs and lows. There’s some real longing in the lyrics, and the usual snark and humor is there as well, with the music setting it all off.
Because of that, it’s hard to pick a place to start, but really anywhere you land is gold. “One Touch” continues in the vein of epic burners like “Get Innocuous,” while “You Wanted A Hit” is a snarky play on the title, stretching what would probably be a fairly slick pop cut into 9 minutes by locking in and working the verses over and over with some subtle layering that just works.
“All I Want” works a similar point A to point B progression that songs like “All My Friends” have done in the past, but stretches out even further and gets even more frantic at the end, reaching a lyrical vulnerability that coincides with some great layered vocals and a noisy synth meltdown.
“All I Want” – LCD Soundsystem
On the other side of the equation is the long, disco-tinged song “Pow Pow.” Blending spoken-word sections with yelled call-outs and some deliciously sparkling synth cascades, it trudges forward for over 8 minutes. Oh, and it’s hilarious in places.
“Pow Pow” – LCD Soundsystem
Basically, if you’ve enjoyed past albums from LCD Soundsystem, you’re not going to go wrong here. In interviews, Murphy has hinted that it may be the last album in this band incarnation, but after hearing This Is Happening, I hope not. If so, though, at least the name is going out with a bang.