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Essential Listening: LCD Soundsystem

Essential Listening: LCD Soundsystem

Andrew Kemp | Features & Interviews


A band of huge importance to a generation, LCD Soundsystem bridged the gap between guitar bands and electronic music, encouraging the most hardened gig-goers to step cautiously onto the dancefloor as they brought disco and house influences to a more rock-focussed audience. The brainchild of DFA Records head James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem became one of the largest cult bands on both sides of the Atlantic, earning a loving fan base through live performances, three studio albums and a series of phenomenal singles.

Loved and respected by fans and peers alike, in April 2011 LCD Soundsystem played an emotional farewell show at Madison Square Garden, signature white balloons cascading down for what appeared to be the final time as the last throws of “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down” echoed through the gathered crowd. Fortunately for those not in attendance, and indeed any of those who were, LCD Soundsystem return this year with a new album and extensive tour, the first dates of which have now been confirmed.

To celebrate the comeback of one of the defining bands of the last fifteen years, Andrew Kemp picks out some essential tracks for one of the bands that kindled his interest in music.

Losing My Edge
The track that first earned the band attention, cementing James Murphy’s status as the definitive New York hipster (back before everyone was a hipster), “Losing My Edge” is a cuttingly clever self-satire, steeped in irony so thick that all sense of fact and fiction has blurred together to produce a none-are-safe critique of everyone involved. Still hailed as a genius, a dance music connoisseur and a trend setter in spite of his age, this is the song that established Murphy as a man who could never lose his edge. 

Someone Great 
I’ve friends who argue that this might be one of the best songs ever written, and I’ve yet to find a reason to refute them. Simply programmed loops interlock to create a track that builds from the first restless synth swells, the circling background squeaks and fuzzed out bass hits into an immensely powerful ode to a missing friend. Lyrics as gutwrenchingly real as they are poetic, “Someone Great” captures a feeling of loss dampened by the overriding feeling of privilege at having held something so hard to lose. It’s emotional and poignant, both wistful and jubilant, and wonderful beyond words. 

All My Friends
Another off the masterpiece 2007 album Sound of Silver, “All My Friends” is focussed around a repeated piano rhythm, giving the track a bright and frenzied feel that chugs away like a steam engine gaining speed. Singing over the top, Murphy’s vocals deal with a battle between memories of youthful endeavours and the realities of age. Sometimes bitter, sometimes resigned, it nonetheless resonates with a hopefulness that acknowledges that even if youthful life is coming to an end, it was at least fun along the way.  

Dance Yrself Clean
An ultra-satisfying drum loop tip-taps its way through the first few minutes, providing a beat to shuffle to as Murphy sing-speaks against “aaahh”ed vocal melodies, eventually giving way to a dirt-drenched synth lead as harder drum hits welcome in the post-drop beats of the song’s body. What follows is a down-tempo floor filler for any situation, with a breakdown that allows the fun to kick in all over again. 

45:33 (Parts 1 and 2)
Slowly evolving from stand alone acid squelches into a piano driven house track, 45:33 has every ingredient of a perfect LCD Soundsystem song. Funk-laden bassline? Check. Choral “ooooohhhhh”s? Check. Catchy as plague vocal line? Check and checkmate. It’s a slow burner that is pleasing from the start but only gets better the longer it burns, like incense for the ears.

With LCD gracing stages for the first time since 2011 this summer, you’ll have the opportunity to catch them live once again, starting with shows at Lovebox in London (16 July) and Ibiza Rocks (6 July). 

Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of LCD Soundsystem
 

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