Monday 25 September 2017

Review of 'American Dream' by LCD Soundsystem

Do I move my feet or slit my wrists?

Having broken up and then un-broken up, US indie electrorockers LCD Soundsystem are back to piss on your generation by reminding you of your hapless existence whilst simultaneously encouraging you to dance to your downfall.

By ‘your generation’, I mean both the young and the old. All you millennial clubbers who live life aimlessly from weekend to weekend – ‘Tonite’ is your anthem. Meanwhile, all you middle-aged singletons still getting by on one night stands – ‘American Dream’ is your anthem.

The bleak social commentary is delivered by James Murphy in second person as if he is the ugly voice of truth in your head. Some of it hits home hard: ‘you hate the idea that you’re wasting your youth, but you stood in the background until you got older’. Yeah, I know I’m the best blogger in the world and an astronaut and a brain surgeon, but do you really have to remind me that I could have become a Hollywood actor too if I really had tried when I was young.

Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy was supposed to be a similarly cynical summary of the times we live in, but as witty as it was it didn’t come across nearly as poignantly due to its third person narcissist position as if he weren’t a part of the world he were describing.

Not only that, but Father John Misty chose dreary pianos and dull folksy guitars to grumble over. Not like LCD Soundsystem, whose soundtrack to the fall of man is set to relentlessly groovy New Wave. From the funky bass and cowbell of ‘Other Voices’ to the pulsing synth and vocoders of ‘tonite’, American Dream revolves around hypnotic New-Order-like instrumentals that seem to suggest the only way to get through the murk is to keep on dancing. Occasionally, the dark lyrics are matched with a gloomier palette of sounds such as the menacing tribal drums of ‘How Do You Sleep?’ or the throbbing funereal chords of Bowie tribute ‘Black Screen’, but these dirges are still set to uptempo rhythms nonetheless. Depression’s never been so danceable.

LCD Soundsystem have long been able to turn minimalism into something epic and here they seem to have fine-tuned it to perfection. Fuelled by doom, this is usually the kind of music I hate. But Murphy and co make it so relatable and so infectious that you can’t help but get hooked.