LCD Soundsystem – ‘American Dream’ album review

New York’s post-punk dance party crew are still putting out electrifying bangers, but they’ve got a darker edge now

LCD Soundsystem – ‘American Dream’

LCD Soundsystem – ‘American Dream’

4 out of 5 stars

Chances are, if you’re excited by the new LCD album, you’re also afflicted with the unbearable condition of, y’know, feeling a bit old now. It’s been seven years since their last record – and A LOT has changed since then, right?

Maybe you’re starting to prefer the countryside to the sesh. Perhaps your love of sourdough has eclipsed your love of techno. Maybe – like LCD main man James Murphy, in fact – you’re a parent now. Perhaps the turntables you bought after selling your guitar have now been sold to buy a Maclaren buggy?

Oldness is an utter bastard, but it’s not the end. The good news is that a band you love, who soundtracked some of the best days of your life, are back and they’re still fucking amazing. Six years ago Murphy brought the band to a close at a farewell concert at Madison Square Garden. But Murphy’s decision to renege on that glorious ending was, according to a recent New York Times interview, spurred on by chats with no less a guru than David Bowie. One possible outcome of their chats is that the master told his protégé not to worry about getting a bit dark on your audience at least once in your career.

James Murphy

So while ‘American Dream’ is still a textbook LCD album, there are some intriguing clumps of dark matter that turn up amid the propulsive grooves. Take ‘How Do You Sleep?’: an unusually theatrical, frosty-as-tundra song that seems to lyrically ambush Murphy’s former musical foil Tim Goldsworthy. Lines like ‘No you won’t give up the cocaine’ chime with the paranoia of ‘Other Voices’ (‘Who can you trust and who are your friends?’) or the comical narco-distress of the title track (‘You took acid and looked in the mirror/watched the beard crawl all over your face’).

Thankfully, though, despite the dark tinges, older doesn’t mean wiser for LCD Soundsystem. Once you get stuck into the album’s second half, you’re solidly back in the presence of that demented post-punk acid house party band that you first fell in love with. ‘Tonite’ is a primo LCD banger – and testament to the fact that Murphy’s own ‘late-era middle-aged ramblings’ shouldn’t stand in the way of a cheeky dance.

If you’re looking for sonic touch points, the 1980s loom as large as Phil Oakey from the Human League’s fringe. Check the nods to Public Image Ltd on opener ‘Oh Baby’, the gonzoid Fripp guitars of Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ on ‘Change Yr Mind’, and the almost U2-isms of ‘I Used To’. But again, it’s a small shift. Making synths and guitars, songwriting and motorik rhythms all work together so well has always been at the heart of LCD Soundsystem. And thankfully, they still do their thing magnificently well. Age be damned.

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