Reinvention is each a dream and a curse, and LCD Soundsystem turns out glad to include each facets on American Dream, the James Murphy-led outfit’s first new album since throwing themselves an outsized farewell birthday celebration in 2011. The acquainted synth tones, looped beats, sarcasm, and sheer rave-ready power that made the band a self-aware favourite—EDM for David Foster Wallace fanatics—go back, however they accompany a extra brooding and sedated total sound.
It’s a welcome shift. The band grew continuously between the 2005 debut and 2010’s This Is Happening, however that expansion most commonly got here in the type of refining adulthood—drifting best to this point from the ’80s-inspired self-consciousness that defines its tune and Murphy’s lyrics. If that debut was once an experiment, the stadium-filling crowd-pleaser that offered out Madison Square Garden was once the outcome.
The greatest risk in the band’s go back, then, is a loss of exchange—a stasis that best brings extra of the similar. While diehards would possibly have discovered that fulfilling, this sort of go back to shape simply can have been changed by means of a remix compilation or a collaboration. Instead, what now we have presented to us is a novel and trustworthy outreach from an getting older artist to a darkening and hardening time. The album is non-public; Murphy’s over-earnest appeals for sincerity and connection aren’t misplaced. But, just like the American dream itself, that shared quest for contact is misplaced by means of a society that acts as a suffocating fog as an alternative of a freeing wind.
This challenge—to seize the chaos and rubble of a tradition buying and selling which means for information and love for status—has sunk an ever-growing record of artists. Digital existence no longer best permeates however penetrates every folks, leaving at the back of an vacancy of dependancy and disgrace. It is now not a bit of our lives however the environment by which we are living. But critiquing it encourages pastiche and overwrought pondering—it’s laborious to speak about it in any respect with out sounding like some crossover between Alan Watts and your grandmother. For a just right instance, re-read the first two sentences of this paragraph.
Murphy is best the newest to tackle the problem. On April’s Pure Comedy, Father John Misty left at the back of the hobby and thematic glue of I Love You, Honeybear for dorm-room observations one can best possible name Randy Newman-esque: “Some dream of a world written in lines of code,” sings the bearded bard, “Well, I hope they engineer out politics, romance, and edifice.” One is unquestionably allowed to aim making a song about VR porn, as Misty does on “Total Entertainment Forever,” however no longer with out giving co-writing credit to the other people at Black Mirror.
Closer to the mark is Arcade Fire with closing month’s Everything Now. Like LCD Soundsystem, Win Butler’s Grammy-winning outfit makes an attempt to paint the found in non-public tones by means of attaining into the previous for nostalgic sounds. The band pleads with awkward honesty (“please God make me famous/If you can’t just make it painless”) on the Peter Gabriel-inspired “Creature Comfort,” however by means of the time listeners get to “Infinite Content” they could feel sorry about surrounding themselves in media that most commonly exists to remind them how continuously they encompass themselves in media.
Such observations are specifically hackneyed coming from musicians. Of the main leisure industries, musicians had been amongst the first to seek out their lives and industry fashions uprooted by means of the finish of shortage. From Napster up till relatively not too long ago, report labels and artists have spoke back to the web by means of punishing customers hoping to seek out the absolute best approach to make stronger the artists they love. And whilst that has made existence more difficult for some artists, it’s tricky to take critically the shaking fists of those that proceed to select to peer the web as a limitation as an alternative of a playground.
While no longer a definite critique of this idea like Everything Now, American Dream is blatantly misplaced inside it. Murphy succeeds the place others have failed by means of heading off the preaching and embracing his concern of the long run for what it’s, anxiousness about whether or not he can live on inside it. “It’s ruling the airwaves/What’s left of the airwaves” Murphy opines in the synth-loaded “tonite” sooner than mocking his personal makes an attempt at discovering intensity in the inherently shallow, summarizing his profession as “a reminder/The hobbled veteran of the disk shop inquisition/Set to parry the cocksure of men’s sick filth/With my own late-era, middle-aged ramblings.”
It’s the similar sardonic self-reference that fills classics of Murphy’s catalog, maximum famously on “Losing My Edge” from the band’s debut: At 35, his fears targeted on “losing my edge/to better looking people/with better ideas/and more talent/who are actually really nice.” On “call the police,” the nearly-50 frontman is nervous no longer of what modified however what stayed the similar—“The old guys are frightened and frightening to behold/The kids come out fighting and still doing what they’re told.”
Instead of lashing out uselessly at a society converting round him, Murphy strips down the need to seize 2017 to its core, existential part. LCD Soundsystem has lengthy been a band obsessive about point of view—therefore Murphy’s dependancy of being mocking and trustworthy in the similar breath. American Dream makes use of not as a reference level for the previous, however for the long run, all whilst spotting the best individuals who concern it are those that suppose they may be able to prevent it.