This is Happening
LCD Soundsystem were founded on the premise of self-awareness. James Murphy, the singer and songwriter, has spent all three albums embodying the persona of a man aware of himself to the point of paralysis. How much of this is actually a persona remains unclear, which is part of the appeal. Their early singles, such as "Losing My Edge," were ironic slams against the knowingly hip. So it seems appropriate that such a knowing band would make their final album knowing it going in. This is, I'm sad to say, supposed to be the final LCD Soundsystem album. And it's written all over its face. Or grooves.
The lyrics, which Murphy tends to extemporize in the last possible moments, reference going home everywhere. Out of nine tracks, at least four of them explicitly say a variation on "take me home." Murphy is tired, and doesn't want to play anymore. At least, not as LCD.
So it's fitting that This is Happening isn't a big leap forward for the band. It is, in fact, a summation of their previous accomplishments. Each song here can be traced to a previous LCD song.As far as being a survey of their style, it could almost be a Best Of, but for one track ("You Wanted a Hit" never quite works). Murphy has always fascinated with his ability to take major landmarks of pop and tack them to other bits, making something new. David Bowie has always been a favourite, but here it rises to new levels. If David Bowie was working in 2010 instead of 1980, I think it's very possible that this is the music he'd be making. "All I Want" uses the guitar from 'Heroes,' and "Drunk Girls" uses an ever-so-Bowie two-note hook.
Oh, it's also hilarious. "Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut: It comes back, but it's never the same." Brilliant.
Sound of Silver was great because it took the knowing sense of humour from the first LCD Soundsystem album and tacked it onto a real emotional core. I don't care for the first LCD album, because it's too removed. "All My Friends" and "Someone Great" were songs from Silver that drew you in and slowly devastated you with their perfect observations, and they helped make Sound of Silver a great, great album. I'm not so sure This is Happening is on the same level, but it's damn close. And that's better than most bands could manage. Let alone a band that tries as hard as LCD Soundsystem.