Monday, April 15, 2013
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007)
James Murphy's second album with LCD Soundsystem, after starting the group in his 30s, disillusioned with the current music scene, feeling old and out of touch - and then going on to make some of the best dance and pop music of the 00s that's as witty and fun as it is danceable and upbeat, being able to go from heartfelt ballads to caustic critiques of society, never missing a beat.
The album starts off with the bouncy bright synths of opener "Get Innocuous!" - the singing on this song feels so anthemic and catchy, it's hard not to get it stuck in your head after just one listen, it's the perfect, synthpop dance banger to kick off the album. This then segues into the tight drum groove that introduces "Time to Get Away" as Murphy's theatrical sing-song dances around the piece - while the song ends fittingly on a angular guitar riff. North American Scum is probably one of the most memorable moments on the album - the fun dance track with the house influence that felt so prevalent on Murphy & Co's eponymous album, with Murphy's sardonic and wry lyricism - it's easily one of LCD Soundsystem's defining songs. The song feels so funky and downright fun, and Murphy's manic, energetic just rings out over the extremely danceable beat.
The cheerful synths and childlike xylophone melody certainly belie the tone of the next song, "Someone Great" Murphy's lyricism - the song is certainly one of the saddest in Murphy's repertoire, with his dejected and defeated sounding singing contrasting the upbeat synth pop of the song - the haunting refrain "When someone great is gone…" just lingers in my mind after listening to it, overtime - he just sound so morose and defeated, and empty, stuck in between saccharine pop melodies, just like someone who has lost "someone great" - middling around in the crowds, surrounded by fake, plastic smiles, having to keep up the facade of seeming "fine" or "alright". "All My Friends" is certainly one of the focal points of the album, if just for that piano ditty that runs throughout the course of the song, never changing as melody after melody and beat after beat are layered on top of it, until the disjointed, out of place sounding piano riff sounds so integral to the song, removing it would really make it seem so much more bland and noteworthy. The evolution of this song is really interesting, and just shows off what a talented songwriter Murphy is - he groups all these different contextual pieces together - influences from so many different bands, from The Fall to The Talking Heads to Kraftwerk, and so many others, bringing together so much different instrumentation and so many different musicians to really complete the vision of his masterpiece - it's truly impressive piece that really encapsulates what Murphy's artistic philosophy with LCD Soundsystem.
The trio of "Us v Them", "Watch the Tapes", and "Sound of Silver" move away from the cathartic pathos of the last few songs - but they're another two extremely funky numbers that definitely help round out the album - the percussion on Us v Them is particularly spectacular, and proves that Murphy can produced fun, danceable jams that are just as interesting and at times as thought provoking as some of his more sombre and downbeat songs. "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" move away from this - it's much more melancholy, and in my opinion, is the perfect closer for this albums - a triste requiem for the city he so idolized and saw as covered without the veneer of glitz, glamour and opportunity - he's old, disillusioned and bitter - an old man looking at the new state of things in disgust. And I think Murphy's whole outlook, the idea of age that is so ever-present in his music, is what makes his music so interesting - the whole range of influences that he's liked throughout his life, all his stories and experiences and feelings, all of his wisdom and experience - all of this comes together to create such a varied and heartfelt pop record, easily one of the most interesting and inventive albums of the 21st century, and a true modern classic.