Sunday, May 30, 2010

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

The 3rd album from LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening, is an instant classic which will be noted in any retrospective on music from the early 2010's. I realized this during my first listen, around the fourth track. It is the Merriweather Post Pavilion of this year and surely will be named #1 album of 2010 by this website. My problem is that I have listened to it so often already, and have already memorized almost all of the lyrics, that most of its magic is now gone. I haven't quite had the album for two weeks, but I have listened to it every single day, at least once.

There is talk that this will be the last LCD Soundsystem album, and the last tour. If so, you might as well kill me when the summer ends because there is not much else worth listening to in my opinion. There are a lot of interesting bands coming out like Dum Dum Girls and Sleigh Bells, and while I like them, and Surfer Blood, they don't come close to matching LCD's capabilities. This album isn't perfect, but it's close enough to perfect to make the case for being an all-time classic.

"Dance Yrself Clean" opens up the album with a 9 minute dance track that starts out very quietly for its first two, erupts for the next four, quiets down again for another, and returns one last time before ending for good. The song is about how people are jerks--present company excluded--and how losing yourself in music or dance can make it all seem insignificant. It is a great song, but I am always hoping for it to end so the next one can start.

"Drunk Girls" may not be the best song on the album, but it's the shortest, the most tightly-packed with ideas, and probably the catchiest. Definitely the funniest. There is a peculiar type of genre that this album (and to a certain extent, other LCD albums) has spawned, and it is the "cover-like homage." Now, there are 2 songs on this album that are "cover-like homages" par excellence, but "Drunk Girls" is a "cover-like homage" that is like a mash-up between VU's "White Light/White Heat" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." That is the best way I can describe the song, but its lyrical performance is what truly sets it apart. Every stereotype or generalization ever made about girls or boys in relation to partying or hanging out at bars is practically contained, with a very ambiguous attitude. The song doesn't stand in judgment of its subjects necessarily, but it does poke fun.

"One Touch" sounds like something off of 45:33 or the LCD S/T. It's a pretty straightforward dance track with one difference: it seems to be able to induce me into a trance. The lyrics are about how someone "doesn't see how we could be pleased with this" because "we've been waiting such a long time." Obviously you could say that about this album, but I can't believe anyone wouldn't be pleased by this album. The song is good, but not one of the very best off the album. Still, trance-inducing, which is cool.

"All I Want" comes fourth and is the first obvious "cover-like homage" of the album. There are a few things to say about it: #1-James Murphy plays every single instrument on this song, and it is a masterpiece, which shows he is a genius, #2-It is the "All My Friends" of this album--and while it doesn't quite reach the heights of that song, it comes damn close, and #3-If David Bowie hears it, he would not sue, but laugh in appreciation. Just the opening of the song, the first minute, is enough to send chills. Lyrically, it may be one of the LCD's saddest songs along with "Someone Great"--it seems to make the point that relationships primarily exist to satisfy one's narcissism. Maybe that doesn't make any sense, but it's a song about complex feelings.

"I Can Change" seems like the lightest song on the album and first has Murphy advising, "Never change/never change/never change/this is why I fell in love" and then has him assuring, "I can change/I can change/I can change/if it helps you fall in love." The song is most notable for his use of falsetto when he sings "hoping and hoping and hoping the feeling goes away!" It's the greatest moment of the song, but overall, it sounds almost intentionally cheesy, as if Murphy knows the chief sentiment of the song is a cliche of adult relationships.

"You Wanted a Hit" is the sixth track, and arguably the best song on the album. It's a return to the 9 minute dance track, except its decidedly downbeat. There is a weird type of Asian music that opens the song, then fades out for the lone guitar line which persists through the entire song--guitar that might be heard on a Young Marble Giants or Gang of Four album--very simple, almost quiet, but evil in a way, and sort of badass. It's a fantastic song about music criticism.

"Pow Pow" is another 9 minute dance track that immediately follows, and another contender for best song on the album. There is definitely a lot more going on here on the previous track--it almost like sounds like a New Order opening, and then some of the best opening lines of any song, "From this position/I will relax..." "Drunk Girls" may be the funniest song, but "Pow Pow" has the most ridiculous lyrics, they are just usually mumbled or otherwise less audible.

"Somebody's Calling Me" is the other obvious "cover-like homage" and the only song on the album that I don't really like. I'm sorry but it sounds kind of depressing and dreadful, like the song that inspired it. I skip it often.

"Home" is a great closing track that reminds me strangely of the Dismemberment Plan song "Back and Forth," which closed out one of their semi-masterpiece albums. It's less remarkable than many of the other songs, but totally pleasing.

At 9 tracks and 65 minutes, it's not easy to make it straight from the beginning to the end, but it's a loaded album that somehow, incredibly, is actually better than Sound of Silver. It's like Ada being better than Lolita. You never thought it was possible, except from the same person. I may have over-indulged during these last two weeks of May, but there could not be many better ways to start the summer than the release of this album.

No comments: