Saturday, August 28, 2010

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Rating: B+

It's tough to evaluate This Is Happening, because James Murphy and co's last album Sound Of Silver kicked my ass so hard. "All My Friends" was my favorite song of the year for 2007, and one of my favorite tracks of the decade. I'm not normally huge on dancey stuff, but this was different. Sure, it had it's groovy moments, but it never strayed too far from its emotional core, an even-handed look at nostalgia and the way we view the past. The title track reminds us that as much as things "make you want to feel like a teenager," then "you remember the feelings of / a real-life, emotional teenager. / Then you think again."

But wait, I'm not reviewing Sound of Silver, I'm reviewing This Is Happening. I guess this is my point; Silver was just a terrific record, touching chords of the heart at the same time it made you move your feet. How can Murphy follow it up? Well, it's not quite as ambitious as Sound of Silver, but it's definitely not as stupid as you'd expect from an album with songs named "Drunk Girls" and "Pow Pow." The former, for all its club feel and subject matter, contains gems of lines like "Just 'cause you're hungry doesn't mean that you're lean." And the latter cuts through banal tales of party sideline activity with cutting questions like "But honestly, and be honest with yourself, how much time do you waste?"

This is Happening gives its tracks room to breathe; only "Drunk Girls" clocks in at less than five-and-a-half minutes. Leadoff track "Dance Yrself Clean" is a nice example; it kicks off the album in subdued fashion with just a backbeat and quiet vocals before the synthesizers kick in three minutes in, at which point things really takes off. The longest track, "You Wanted a Hit," runs over nine minutes, starting with a dream-like synthesizer wash as the drums and bass kick in and rise in volume. Amazingly, the space in these songs never bores, and there aren't any duds on here that make you groan and skip to the next track.

Murphy has a great feel for the emotions bubbling beneath the surface of ostensibly happy party-goers and teens / twenty-somethings: anxiety, joy, uncertainty, loneliness, and passion. The heart of the album is "All I Want's" refrain of "All I want is your pity / And all I want is your bitter tears." This Is Happening shows LCD Soundsystem maybe not at its strongest, but pretty darn close.

Buy it from Amazon:
This Is Happening
LCD Soundsystem Official Site

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