Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem

The malaise affecting dance music (as well as hip hop, incidentally) today is an obvious one. Its practitioners are almost uniformly lazy. Come up with a catchy beat, find an appropriate sample (currently in vogue are 80s New Wave and New Romatics numbers), repeat ad nauseum, stir. The true tragedy is that these records find their way to dancefloors everywhere, and drunk and high university students go nuts to them. So thank God for LCD Sound System.

So what does silver sound like? Pretty bloody good, it would seem. Immaculately conceived, drawing from influences as diverse as Berlin-era Bowie, Kraftwerk (obviously), Human League, Blondie, and stapled together by good helpings of the punk ethos, with Sounds of Silver, LCD Sound System has created one of those rare records. A genre album that defies genre, anachronistic in its insistence in avoiding what is current and cool, and just making a kick-arse recording. But bear in mind, this is unquestionably a dance record. Superbly recorded, every rapid-fire hi-hat clash and bass drum thud comes through loud and clear at the front of the mix, beats, while varied, practically demand that your feet start tapping at the very least.

Also, unlike almost every other dance recording of recent years, some thought has actually gone into the lyrical content. Much like 2005s LCD Soundsystem, a chief theme running through the record is James Murphy's attempts to come to terms with getting older. As with 'Losing my Edge' off that record, songs like 'All My Friends' cry age-weariness all over, such as 'You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan/And the next five years trying to be with your friends again', a clear call of confusion from a man who spent his youth living hard on the dance scene suddenly finding himself not wanting to 'stagger home'.

The songwriting and craftsmanship on this record also set it far apart from its peers. Murphy displays an amazing ability to mould a song to suit its role, be it four-minute storming single 'Time to Get Away', or longer, languid heartbreakers such as 'Someone Great', with its personal tragedy clear, but the details agonisingly hidden in the obscure, yet heartfelt and pertinent words.

Closing on the Nouveau-Jazz-Blues-ish 'New York, I Love You, but you're Bringing me Down', this sense of gradually increasing disatisfaction at being in stasis in New York in his forties is brought home just as effectively in a more downbeat fashion, closing out a record much as his big nights out probably wrap up these days, tired, worn and sitting down with a cup of tea.

2007 is turning into something of a wonderful vintage.

4 1/2 stars

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