Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best of 2010: #3 LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

“Dance Yourself Clean” is the best album opener of the year. It’s initial two minutes and change are mumbled and slight. Forcing you to focus, listen closer, listen harder, and then just as it’s about to lose you there is an ungodly shift in volume and a fresh pounding synth. It’s a coy musical move from a guy who knows from coy musical moves. The arresting nine minutes of “Clean” lead to the first single; “Drunk Girls.” The song almost felt like a retread of James Murphy’s lead singles from his first two records, after a few spins the apparent similarities also feel like a coy musical move.

James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem put out smart LPs. Every beat, sequencing choice, verbal aside, is earned if not upon first brush then by a second spin. You get the sense James Murphy exits in a our world with all currently available musical technology and travels back in time to a place where artists were encouraged to go bigger longer and knottier on their records. Maybe he goes back to the 70’s, but more likely he goes to a time that never existed. People reach for Eno and Bowie when talking about Murphy and it isn’t just the clear musical referencing to those artists(though it’s that too), it is the auteurist nature of what he does. It also, at this point, happens to be the fact that he’s gone from simple studio rat to expert front man and band leader.

This Is Happening may edge out it’s predecessor(Sound of Science) in every Conceivable category other than getting there first. Justifiably this is on pretty much every year end list. It’s honestly been a forgone conclusion for most of the year. Perhaps it’s because what Murphy does is what most rock critics really want to be doing. He has filled his sandbox with his favorite influences. German techno, Bowie ballads, wheezy fuzzy guitars, a seemingly endless supply of rhythmic ephemera, etc. He has all of these things at his disposal and then he finds himself in them all, over and over again, finding angles and portions of what makes him tick. And what occupies his brain is what occupies so many in the “list making community’s” collected minds.

The main subject as always are these damn kids who just don’t seem to be partying right, who just don’t seem to know what their letting get passed them. Which in the end is really a reflection on what Murphy perceives to have passed him by. Which suggests that putting this on your list is an acknowledgment that it’s passing you(me? us?) by.

Oh fuck.

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