LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening | CD review


Farewell, then, LCD Soundsystem, the Brooklyn outfit through which soppy disco curmudgeon James Murphy refracted his record collection and caustic apercus. Murphy has said that this third album is probably his last as LCD. If indeed this is the end – pop stars have been known to dissemble before – This Is Happening completes a glittering tenure that began with 2002's "Losing my Edge", less a single proper then a wizened hipster screed clocking in at eight minutes. The thirtysomething Murphy was saying goodbye even then, a grizzled veteran conscious of the kids coming up behind.

To say that Murphy has written half of This Is Happening before is no insult. The correlations are very direct. Like "Losing my Edge", "Pow Pow" is another terrific stream-of-consciousness monologue powered by shimmering punk-funk. This time, though, the 40-year-old is more concerned with perspective than cool.

The feeling of deja vu continues, but with no accompanying sense of regret. "I Can Change", a pottering new wave torch song, recalls "All My Friends" from 2007's Sound of Silver album (and Eurythmics' "Love Is a Stranger"). It is just one of the multiple beating hearts that power this evolved, snarky, rueful, euphoric and valedictory record, one that improves with every listen.

"Drunk Girls"? Another slamming, funny single in the mould of 2007's shout-along "North American Scum". The business of hit-making clearly bugs Murphy, who briefly found himself in a studio with Britney Spears, attempting to work his hipster magic on her (the sessions were aborted). He has also failed to deliver the hoped-for revenues for EMI, which bankrolled his boutique label, DFA, to little financial reward.

These pressures culminate in what is perhaps Murphy's most ill-conceived lyric, "You Wanted a Hit", a grouchy disquisition on why he doesn't do hits. The music, however, is sublime, with a kaleidoscopic reveal just before the seven-minute mark.

Murphy's musings often monopolise the attention that his music deserves just as acutely. An early talking point is "Dance Yrself Clean", a song of two halves that lulls the listener with some tremulous introspection before battering their speakers with a wallop of acrylic bass at just over the three-minute mark. But the beginning of "What You Need" is even more fascinating: modal systems music channelled through twitchy percussive feints. "Just do it right/ Make it perfect and real," runs the opening lyric of LCD's closing song, as apposite an epitaph as Murphy could write for his singular band.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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