LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

“Everybody’s getting younger

It’s the end of an era, it’s true.”- LCD Soundsystem-“Dance Yrself Clean”

Much ado has been made about the fact that this is reportedly, LCD Soundsystem’s final album. Thankfully, This Is Happening is a fantastic record, and frankly for James Murphy to have followed up 2007’s seminal Sound Of Silver with such a strong album deserves applause. This Is Happening feels to Sound Of Silver much how Sound Of Silver felt to Murhpy’s self-titled debut; different, but no less essential.

Murphy’s vocals have always taken a back seat in his music; it’s always seemed that that’s how he wanted it. Throughout This Is Happening the vocals are a force to be reckoned with, as the music has always been. Generally speaking the whole record is more of an ironic hipster meltdown than the defiant punk of Sound Of Silver, (North American Scum, Us V Them) whether it’s on the college anthem of “Drunk Girls” (Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut/It comes back but it’s never the same) or the 80’s shimmer of “I Can Change” (Never change/It’s why I fell in love – I can change/If it helps you fall in love).

And the tunes are here, aplenty. Murphy’s glorious return comes in the shape of “Dance Yrself Clean”, what at first seems like a quiet opener but which actually hides ravenous synths waiting to jump you at the next corner. “One Touch” is an extended funk trip; Murphy doing his best Kraftwerk vocal impression, cold and distant while the nagging yet chirpy electronics skitter in the background. The most dubious territory vocally on This Is Happening comes from “You Wanted A Hit”. Like the opening track, it’s great because it’s linear, albeit bookended by gentle electronics. You’ve got to wonder though who exactly Murphy is singing for/at (You wanted a hit/but maybe we don’t do hits). Is it his own record label that he’s giving a telling off? If that’s the case it doesn’t make sense, and if it’s not, it still doesn’t make sense. Regardless, the style of vocals fit well with the Stevie Nicks style guitars and simple bleeps and chirps happening throughout.

Comparing “All I Want” to David Bowie’s “Heroes” is fast becoming cliché, but it’s by far the most apt comparison. Not that this needs comparing; Murphy’s vocal performance whilst the quietest on the album lend the number something that couldn’t be achieved were he screaming at the top of his lungs. By the time the grand climax of guitar, distorted brass and drums kick in, Bowie will be the farthest thing from your mind. “And all I want is your pity/Oh all I want are your bitter tears”

The Talking Heads funk of “Pow Pow Pow” at first got on my nerves, but like Murphy’s work in general it soon grows on you. The insistent beat and Murphy’s stream of consciousness meets witty hipster vocals actually make it one of the tracks that you’ll come back to, very reminiscent of breakthrough single “Losing My Edge”. “From this perspective, from this position, I have a good grip on both of them/Because I have stayed home and learned a little bit more about my neighbourhood, which is important.”Weak link in the chain has probably got to be “Somebody’s Calling Me”, it’s steady piano beat is neither catchy, nor is the vocal content that amusing. It has the potential to be a grower though, but it’s definitely the least accessible track on the album.

This brings us to epic closer, “Home”. Personally speaking my favourite track of the year, at approximately 9 minutes it isn’t (like most of the album) a brief affair, but it has exactly the kind of chirpy melancholy displayed in Talking Heads classic, “This Must Be The Place”. Obviously carrying added poignancy being Murphy’s swansong, it’s the best bow out fans could have hoped for “Just do it right, make it perfect and real/Because it’s everything, no everything/Was never the deal”. Another superb vocal performance, (Afraid of what you neeeeeeeeeed!) it’s a fantastically realised final performance.

As a massive LCD fan it’s hard to come down on This Is Happening in the same way other critics might, but even after a stab at objectivity it stands out as my album of the year thus far. “Somebody’s Calling Me” may not be as on form as the others, but Sound Of Silver was hardly 100% consistent, (Watch The Tapes, anyone?) and with the rest of the songs being as strong, it’s still a fantastic album. At the tender age of 40, Murphy follows the golden rule: Always leave them wanting more.

“To tell the truth, this could be the last time

So here we go, like a sales force into the night”- LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening, reviewed by Lemon on 2010-05-20T08:20:43-07:00 rating 4.5 out of 5

2 Responses about “LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening”

  • rowe says:

    i read this review to my friend at a walmart in northern michigan, she responded: “i listened to that album on the plane over here…like a hundred times”

  • Charles says:

    I want to BE this fucking record sometimes. Right, man. Just fucking right.