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ReListen: LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

ReListen: LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening


Meeting at a friend’s house before heading out to a club night, one of the most difficult questions I had ever been asked was put to the room. The question was, “What was the best song of the last decade?” I simply could not decide at the time but a few hours later, the answer was given to me. The last song of the evening began, it was 3:30am, and it hit me like a ten tonne truck exactly what the best song of the last decade was. I stood in the middle of that club’s dancefloor and danced, jumped, screamed and poured my heart out over the song’s intense 9 minute run time. The song that began was ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ by the electronic, post punk, experimental band LCD Soundsystem, and the album was 2010’s This Is Happening.
LCD Soundsystem were a musical anomaly, releasing just three full length albums over their short-lived career. Releasing their single in 2002, entitled ‘Losing My Edge’, the eight minute song was a satirical look at the hip underground music scene and subsequently, and somewhat ironically, became a huge underground hit. It took a further three years for the band to release a full album, which was 2005’s self titled double album LCD Soundsystem. The album became an instant classic in the electronic music scene for its raw sound, punk influences, and for vocalist and multi-instrumentalist James Murphy’s biting wit within the lyrics. After this came 2007’s Sound of Silver, which was met with universal respect and acclaim, and earned the band a number of ‘Album of the Year’ accolades from publications including The Guardian and Uncut Magazine. The lead single from the album, ‘All My Friends, was selected by Pitchfork Magazine as the second best song of that year.

Enough salivating over the band, it’s time to talk about the album. This Is Happening came to me at a pretty interesting point in my life. I was very much into punk, pop punk, screamo, hardcore and everything aggressive. I was already a fan of the band up to this point, but now I was a bit more grown up, a bit more mature, and most importantly, I listened to the lyrics of songs more so than I did the music. The album opens with the track I talked about earlier, ‘Dance Yrself Clean’. It contains a drop unlike any other I have heard before. Starting off with just a simple drum beat, the intro goes for just over three full minutes, but you never notice it going by. From there it’s just the danciest beat; fun and light but with the right amount of punch. Immediately after that they pull out a left hook, straight from their post punk roots, with the absolute party jam, ‘Drunk Girls’.

The thing that always draws me back to this band, and this album in particular, is that it’s an electronic album that absolutely anyone could listen to and find something they like. Every time I re-listen I find a new little piece in one of the tracks that I never noticed, such as the scale of the sound on the album. Murphy‘s lyrics always struck a chord with me as well, not only because of their wit, but also because of his unique ability to cut through the bullshit and metaphor and just say things the way they are, while keeping a certain poetry to them. On the closing track ‘Home’, he delivers a slice of truth about a type of relationship that many of us will be familiar with but is rarely addressed so brutally in music: “Cause you’re afraid of what you need, yeah, you’re afraid of what you need. If you weren’t, yeah you weren’t then I don’t know what we’d talk about”. Damn, James Murphy. Damn.
LCD Soundsystem and This Is Happening are a band and album for every season, every emotion and every situation. They have always stirred up something in me that is elevated slightly above being one of ‘my favourite bands’. They have truly affected me, and I find that is so rare, especially in the electronic genre. Unfortunately, for me and millions of others, the band retired in 2011 with a sold out show in Madison Square Garden that seems to have been a gig unlike any other. In case you don’t believe me:

Will there ever be a band like LCD Soundsystem again? Doubtful. Certainly not one that will attain their ‘cool’, with such ease and with such lack of intention. There will probably never be another band that can span so many genres, capture the zeitgeist so effectively, capture the emotion of looking into a music scene you grew up in change, and do so while still appealing to the masses, and influencing the next generation.
Like what you hear? Maybe you disagree? Let me know in the comments!