Six years after recording the band’s retirement concert in Madison Square Gardens, James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem have come out of hiding with a new album; an album about skepticism that documents the death of it’s own namesake, the American Dream.
LCD have managed, like no other band, to remain hidden under the radar of popstar success, whilst covertly attracting critical acclaim and worldwide appeal – with live DVD releases and a headline slot at Coachella festival on their list of accolades.
Any true fan, however, knew that this was not a fitting final legacy for the Brooklyn group. A farewell gig in New York’s most celebrated arena and a show-stopping festival performance is far too… “Hollywood” for a band that thrive on being the underdog and, in a world where Trump is president, music is losing it’s edge and every corner of society is more afraid and suspicious than ever before, the public needed another LCD Soundsystem record.
The title track, and first release from the album, sets the tone for the entire piece. ‘American Dream’ illustrates 47-year-old James Murphy’s ongoing chagrin and bafflement at the world, proving that disillusionment and skepticism are not merely reserved for the young. Like in so many of his older songs, the singer/songwriter/band-founder calmly and articulately documents the terrifying and tragic scenes around him, all filtered through a serene, almost dream-like flow when Murphy recalls:
“You took acid and looked in the mirror
Watched the beard crawl around on your face
Oh, the revolution was here
That would set you free from those bourgeoisie”
The referencing of the bourgeoisie (a Marxist term for the wealthy middle and upper classes whose primary concern is the value of goods and property) represents a common theme throughout this album, a seemingly society-wide loss of respect for art and compassion.
Although LCD Soundsystem are the undoubted kings of I’m-not-angry-I’m-just-disappointed indie-dance music, that isn’t to say that this whole record is doom & gloom, the familiar genre-defying cascade of synthesizers and electro-dance beats are as present as ever. This is especially true of ‘Tonite‘, which is sure to be a huge hit during live shows. The single documents the dying notion of fandom, in an age where the walls between genres are crumbling and nobody is a ‘music fanboy’ in the same recognisable sense anymore. Like several other tracks on American Dream, ‘Tonite’ sacrifices rhythmic flow for lyric and chaos, which is a refreshing change to many other recent releases in the indie-pop sector.
During the 70-minute record, LCD prove that they still have the ability, like nobody else, to produce a whole album of 7 minute songs, all of which remain digestible and palatable to a listener. But although this album is fit to burst with feeling, honestly and indie-rave flow, one would be forgiven for thinking that it is missing a cornerstone single. American Dream lacks a slow-burning firework like ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ or the full-bodied melodic hook of ‘All My Friends’.
Despite this, American Dream is undoubtedly one of the musical highlights of 2017, and proves beyond doubt James Murphy’s place as one of modern music’s most important social commentators.
Since LCD Soundsystem’s last album, 2010’s This Is Happening, the singer has seen heroes in the form of Bowie, Prince and Cohen buried and recently fathered his first child, and American Dream reassures us that although nothing is truly perfect, we don’t need it to be. Who would want to retire in a blaze of glory anyway?
Words by Matt Ganfield