My favourite album: LCD Soundsystem by LCD Soundsystem

Continuing our new series in which Guardian and Observer writers pick their favourite albums ever – with a view that you might do the same – Paul MacInnes explains why James Murphy's masterpiece makes him go 'absolutely bananas'

LCD Soundsystem's final concert earlier this year was attended by 20,000 people and lasted three hours and 40 minutes. As far as parties to commemorate the passing of a loved one go, it was longer and grander than any wake I've ever been to. And I'm Catholic. And Scottish.

The passing of James Murphy's troupe was a marker for many people of a certain age (probably a bit younger than Murphy himself, now 41); people who had grown up with musical genres kept in tidy boxes, with analogue distinct from digital, but who – over the course of half a dozen years and three LCD albums – had seen the whole thing come crashing down. Which is handy, if you're both partial to bugging out in clubs and, perhaps only a few hours later, weeping to a ballad on your bed.

The first syllable of debut album LCD Soundsystem set the tone. "Owwwww", howls Murphy like he's James Brown (or is it Iggy Pop?). This yelp, a call to arms, to party, is followed by the deployment of a massive hook, the bass reverberating like a piece of industrial machinery, and we are into Daft Punk Is Playing at My House, a song best described as "post-punk", celebrating two legends of French house music.

Daft Punk made clear Murphy's ability to home right in on the elements of contemporary music that make people want to party. This was not achieved by chance. Murphy had already spent 16 years in the music game (mainly in hardcore bands) by the time LCD Soundsystem was released. He knew the ins and outs not only of pop music history (as evinced by LCD's first single, the imperious I'm Losing My Edge), but how it was made. A recent profile of Murphy in the New Yorker pointed out how those observations had shaped themselves into something approaching a manifesto, rules of performance that covered everything from the use of samples to the wearing of sunglasses. Although reading between the lines, the main stricture was that the band should play loud or not at all.

Anyone who has seen LCD Soundsystem live, not just in Madison Square Garden, will know they are true to their principles. But they will also know this focus is matched with a determination to experiment and extemporise. This spirit is best captured on the album LCD Soundsystem. Tribulations, for example, at just over four minutes long, largely conforms to the conventional structures of a pop song, but still finds time (an entire minute) to drop the guitar line and be driven by just the bass and a popping drum pattern that sounds like a sample of robotic mineral water. Thrills, an ostensibly simple combination of bass and fuzz, morphs into a freewheeling mash of percussion and echoing vocals. Movement takes similar ingredients, but explodes in a dfferent direction, its final two minutes a full-pelt punk workout.

Critical consent holds second album Sound of Silver to be LCD's best, a collection that fuses disco sensibilities and bounteous percussion with lyrical explorations of loneliness and bereavement. But for me, in its beauty, Sound of Silver scrubbed out some of the band's pep. What's more I would never go as crazy for Murphy's lyrics, often oblique to the point of offering the listener any meaning they want, as I would for his hooks.

While it might not be fair, the deciding mark in favour of LCD's first album being their best – and my favourite – is its second disc. Not part of the original album but released with most versions, it collates all the releases Murphy had made under the LCD moniker over the 18 months that preceded the LP. That means you get Losing My Edge and Beat Connection for gratis. Not only that you get what I would call Murphy's real greatest achievement and a track that will surely endure once western hipster civilisation has been swallowed by the waves. Anyone who doesn't go absolutely bananas for the 303 breakdown in Yeah (Crass version) obviously doesn't have a pulse.

• You can write your own review of LCD Soundsystem on our brand new album pages: once you're signed into the Guardian website, visit the album's own dedicated page.

Or you could simply star rate it, or add it to one of your album lists. There are more than 3m new pages for you to explore as well as more than 600,000 artist pages – so if, for example, Daft Punk is always playing in your house you could review their work or, perhaps, that of those other masters of musical melding Soulwax. You could, if you so desired, just swap your synthesisers for guitars and review the Sonics instead.


Paul MacInnes

The GuardianTramp

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