Album Review: This Is Happening - LCD Soundsystem

All I want is your tears. Sometimes it's the spaces in between that define the thing.

It is fair to say that over the past ten years LCD Soundsystem have done much to define what 'rock music that makes you dance' is. Together with his collective, James Murphy has become a central spoke for a change in music that sees crowds of fans at concerts a mix of indie kids, ageing musos and clubbers all enjoying the same thing but for different reasons. And here, on the cusp of what may (or may not be) the last LCD Soundsystem album, it is worth contemplating what has been before. Take ten of the best LCD Soundsystem songs and listen to them and you would have a varied set of tracks that stands up to the catalogues of many far more prolific bands.

But sweeping all of this to one side, what is important is that This Is Happening is another beautiful record. LCD Soundsystem make songs that sit somewhere between so funny it hurts and so painful it's funny. A desperate attempt to be heard above everyone else in the room that evolves like a kid who needs the girl so bad that he chips off the lame to leave only the cool. And one thing is sure - James Murphy is still cooler than you.

Make no mistake - This Is Happening is a subtler album. Sound Of Silver got into thing with the building, growling 'Get Innocuous'. Here things are kicked off with a slacker rock James Murphy who sounds like he can barely be bothered to sing... At least, until the base kicks in at which point 'Dance Yrself Clean' transforms into awkward needy blissful electro. And yes, no vowels is still cooler than replacing the word 'you' with 'u'.

And say what you want (and Vice magazine did) - yes, 'Drunk Girls' sounds like 'White Light, White Heat', but isn't that the fucking point? And does it make it sound any less infectious? And are the lyrics ('drunk girls know that love's like an astronaut - it comes back but it's never the same') not genius? And is the hook not perfect? And if you see it live isn't it even better? Yes, yes, yes and yes (and yes). But more to the point, the lead single to Sound Of Silver was 'North American Scum' and BlackPlastic defies anyone to say that was a better single.  It isn't. And what does this prove? Vice magazine are a bunch of hipsters far more desperate than Murphy.

Much of what follows continues the trend from the sassy yet ultimately more constrained sound of LCD's first album proper (just the first disc) towards the more organic music of Sound Of Silver. Sadly nothing manages to scale the heights of 'Someone Great', 'All My Friends' or 'New York, I Love You' but the David Bowie's 'Heroes' does 'Here Come The Warm Jets' of 'All I Want' sure as hell gives it a shot.

Ultimately that is as good a sumation of This Is Happening as any. It may not have the three standout tracks of the last album but it has a greater artistic vision and a more consistent overall quality. Everything on here outshines the lesser tracks on Sound Of Silver and more importantly there is an apparent vision for the album. Where Sound Of Silver flitted from one genre to the next like a teenager playing with their parents' record collection This Is Happening basks in a warm organic glow that makes it sound much more timeless - whether it be on the warm disco grooves of 'I Can Change' or the tightly rhythmic 'You Wanted A Hit'. Sometimes it's the spaces in between that define the thing.

This Is Happening might not be perfect but it still manages to be more exciting and vital than almost anything else you will lay your hands on this year.

BP x

This Is Happening is out on EMI on 17 May, available for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].

Video: Drunk Girls - LCD Soundsystem

It's not that we are biased, it's just that LCD Soundsystem are still more exciting than everybody else. Check out the video Spike Jonze has made for new single 'Drunk Girls' as it's probably Jonze's best in years:

Very punk. Love it.

Forthcoming album This Is Happening is out on 17 May, the This Is Happening EP featuring 'Drunk Girls' is out now, both are on EMI.

Stay tuned - we will have a full review of the album on BlackPlastic soon.  The album can also be streamed in full over at the LCD Soundsystem website.

BP x