LCD Soundsystem are bringing their American Dream tour back to Dublin next week on June 5th at Malahide Castle along with Lykke Li and Shit Robot. They played 3 nights in a row in the Olympia last September, a return from a hiatus, that was as special and as uplifting as ever. Below you’ll find five of my favourite LCD songs and why but if you want to win a pair of tickets to the show, enter the draw by emailing [email protected] with LCD MALAHIDE in the subject line and your name in the body before Friday at 11am.
Losing My Edge
By releasing his breakthrough record in 2002 with a self-confession of creeping irrelevance, James Murphy set up the jaded ageing persona that established LCD Soundsystem as a going concern. The eight-minute ‘Losing My Edge’ is also an exercise in establishing the author’s credentials while admonishing the too-cool-to-care schtick that was dominant in rock music at the time.
Through his sarky listicle of a song, name-checking music nerd reference points: Can, Captain Beefheart, Modern Lovers, The Slits and “a white label of every seminal Detroit techno hit,” among others, Murphy demonstrates that music nerd knowledge is power, even going as far as to steal the song’s pulsing synthesizer rhythm from a Killing Joke B-side.
So while James was worried about losing his edge “to the Internet seekers,” in 2005, that sentiment is revisited 15 years later on ‘Tonite’ (the most immediate and most-LCD Soundsystem song on recent album American Dream). Murphy is no longer revelling in owning the knowledge about music, as his record shop superpowers no longer have cachet when everything is instantly available at our fingertips.
He points out all modern songs are monosyllabic in their quest for the ephemeral. But James knows better. A “late-era-middle aged ” cynic he might be but on ‘Tonite’ with its pulsating square-edged synth line and cowbell percussion, he invalidates the short-term seekers, reminding us that we are getting older, that we can’t change the future and it won’t be any better than it is now, and ultimately, he resolves on a positive, rejecting modern pop’s narrative. You aren’t missing the party, there aren’t better places to be. You, like this “hobbled veteran of the disk shop inquisition” make your own fun and place in the world.
Dance Yrself Clean
The opening track of This Is Happening is a dynamic bait and switch with the first 188 seconds of the song delivered in a distant quiet volume that only amplifies Murphy’s Kermit-style croak. Live, the song’s quiet dynamism isn’t possible as by accident or design, the audience (“Present company excluded every time / Present company, the best that you can find”) are only too keen to sing the na-na-na-style melody. It’s a gloriously weird start/stop song that somehow stays anthemic.
Yeah (Crass Version)
A reminder that Murphy and company don’t need to rely on being too clever for their own good and are able to write a really effective 9-minute long pop jam (or 11 minute long if you count the Pretentious version) that I rarely want to turn off until it gets to its bleep-assisted crescendo.
It’s hard to pick one song from an album as good as Sound Of Silver. ‘All My Friends’ very quickly after release, elevated itself to an end of the night song to rival Talking Heads’ ‘This Must Be The Place’. ‘Someone Great’ is equally anthemic in its construction but it’s also notable for its subject matter, the death of James Murphy’s therapist. It’s a melancholic and uplifting song about finality and acceptance – “The worst is all the lovely weather / I’m stunned it’s not raining / The coffee isn’t even bitter \ Because what’s the difference?”
‘Someone Great’ is a majestic number not least because of the sentiments expressed but also because of the production. Even in instrumental form on the 45:33 mix, the propulsive synths rise and fall along with lullaby bells, bass notes and high sustained frequencies in the mix. It feels alchemic, like a once-in-the lifetime thing and that only reinforces the song’s message.
Win a pair of tickets to see LCD Soundsystem to Malahide Castle on June 5th. Enter the draw by emailing [email protected] with LCD MALAHIDE in the subject line and your name in the body before Friday at 11am.
Niall Byrne is the founder of the most-influential Irish music site Nialler9, where he has been writing about music since 2005 . He is the cohost of the Nialler9 Podcast and has written for the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Cara Magazine, Sunday Times, Totally Dublin, Red Bull and more. Niall is a DJ, founder of Lumo Club, event curator and producer of gigs, parties & events.