Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LCD: This Is Happening.

Jesus Christ Wow & words to that effect. This Is Happening is the rather apt title of LCD Soundsystem’s resplendent & dazzling new LP. Hear some here:

LCD-I Can Change mp3

LCD (& more specifically James Murphy) will continue to be accused now of being “merely” derivative & a novelty act, so let’s start there, yes? “You Wanted a Hit” is a novelty song, & likewise “Drunk Girls” at least arguably. Not incidentally, these are probably the least two interesting songs on the album, notwithstanding sundry fine aspects to recommend them. So. I will not object to their exclusion from this discussion for the sake of anyone offended by novelty songs, of which I am no great champion.

So, next. LCD = Derivative? Well, here is “Somebody’s Calling Me.”

LCD-Somebody's Calling Me mp3

Which I immediately sussed as signifying “Nightclubbing,” viz Iggy Pop, from The Idiot (1977):

IP-Nightclubbing mp3

Crazy right? & Hey, the whole album is replete with this kind of thing. Murphy’s songs quote freely & avidly from the best of the best of very late 1970s & very early 1980s new wave, synth pop, art funk, & pertinent antecedents thereof. e.g., Bowie, circa Heroes (1977); Prince, circa 1999 (1982); Talking Heads, circa Remain in Light (1980); Television; Joy Division; Mr. Pop supra; & cetera & cetera.

Many of the references jump right out at you; others reveal themselves gradually. The best parts of the LP, I will argue, are its rhythm grooves, protracted & sinuous & deep. Which tend to pose who’s-zooming-who-type of questions. i.e., is Murphy bastardizing seventies afropop? Or bastardizing later bastardizations of same by Caucasian-American rock stars? & does it even matter, since now you’re dancing?

So I guess the operative question is whether this music is somehow diminished by virtue of its being so nakedly derived from something(s) else. Like, is LCD just a crass little ripoff, devoid of its own ideas & inspiration? Is it just retro?

To be candid, I can’t seem to muster that much snark. Not in the face of what is such a clear & unreserved gesture of Love. Just listen: there is nothing ironic or snide to be found in these connotations of the earlier era. Murphy is not reveling in kitsch, he is no fucking Hipster. No way, that. He loves what he loves & he is unabashed about it. I’m finding his enthusiasm infectious.

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