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May 10, 2010 | by  | in Music |
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LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

One of the most terrible decisions I have ever made was missing LCD Soundsystem at the 2008 Big Day Out. I was young, naïve and hadn’t been especially wowed by their self-titled album. But with an upcoming world tour, in support of a great album, I think I can finally redeem myself. So yes, I can assure you that This is Happening, the follow-up to 2007’s much-loved Sound of Silver, is equal to the first two records, and don’t let anyone else persuade you otherwise. I can already predict two persistent criticisms dominating reviews once the album is officially released next week.

The first complaint will be how obvious LCD mastermind James Murphy has made his influences on each specific track, and while Murphy’s referencing of his favourite artists has always been a feature of his music, this time he has gone to the point where the finished songs may uncomfortably evoke famous source material a little too much. It is impossible to listen to ‘Someone’s Calling Me’ with its clunky piano chords and zombie drum-machine beat without thinking of Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’, or the beautifully sustained guitar feedback of ‘All I Want’ without recalling David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. The second complaint will be about the song lengths, with most tracks being over seven minutes, and the album clocking in as the longest LCD album at almost exactly an hour.

While I do accept that sometimes these songs can seem a little too close to their influences, I still believe that they fit into the LCD melting pot quite well, as well as pointing out that these sources are a hell of a lot harder to reference than atypical ‘dance-punk’. The second complaint pertains to the generous song lengths, most of which break the six minute barrier. However, Murphy is well aware of the fact that great dance songs are always built on gradual developments and repetitions, and tracks like the fantastic opener ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ and the extended rant of ‘Pow Pow’ nail this dynamic perfectly.

Aside from those criticisms, This is Happening succeeds because Murphy’s three strengths from Sound of Silver are still intact. He is still able to write great songs with lyrics and feelings (especially apparent on the closer ‘Home’); tie his massive range of influences together as though they shared the same thought processes; and somehow transplant all this into functioning dance music. The album as a whole can simultaneously tell you with true sincerity to go out and get fucked with your friends; amass more music than you can possibly listen to; and then go out and dance ya ass off without embarrassment. That seems pretty ideal to me.

4.5/5

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