LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening

Artist: LCD Soundsystem

Title: This Is Happening
Release date: May 18
Label: DFA/Parlophone

It's true what they say: You learn something new every day. Here, I thought LCD Soundsystem was just another electronica act. Then I heard their new record, This Is Happening, and it dawned on me: No, this isn't just a synth-crazed dance outfit; this is a real rock band.

Yeah, there are synths and there are dance beats aplenty, but first and foremost, these guys (or, more accurately, one guy, James Murphy) are definitely in touch with rock 'n' roll sensibilities. To me, LCD Soundsystem may be the most seamless fusion of rock and dance since New Order's mid-1980s heyday.
It was a pleasant revelation. And I've found myself listening to this record quite a bit since I got my hands on a copy last week. I particularly like Murphy's nods to late-1970s David Bowie ("All I Want" sounds like a latter-day "Heroes") and Iggy Pop ("Somebody's Calling Me" evokes a late-night "Nightclubbing" vibe). As a vocalist, Murphy doesn't have the same outsize personality as those icons -- or most bona fide hitmakers, for that matter. But he's got  tons of musical ideas, strong but not showy lyrics, the keenest of production values, and the good sense to play it straight as a singer, never trying to overdo it, simply connecting to listeners with a brainy, but never highfalutin, approach to dance-rock.

The whole record sounds effortless, and you can't always say that about indie rock, a genre in which it seems so many acts are trying their damnedest to impress.

I know I'm late to the party on LCD Soundsystem (so what else is new, right?), but now that I've heard this band, I'll be curious to see what they do in the future.

Best song: "Drunk Girls." This may be the best punk song I've heard in 2010. 
Rotation: Heavy.
Deja Vu: A late-night driving around the city.
I'd rather listen to: Iggy's great Lust for Life record.
Grade: A-

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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