LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

With all the recent track leaks, everyone knows that, yes, This Is Happening. If you trust ecstatic man-on-the-Tweet hyperbole, LCD Soundsystem’s third album is the record catapulting James Murphy to the moon, aka Sound Of Platinum. (Sorry, Greenberg soundtrack.) Of course, with those aforementioned leaks, you have the ability to call bullshit … or to back the buzz with hard evidence. As with all good dance parties, it’s essential knowing how the tracklist works from start to finish, though, so it’s probably best you listen to This Is Happening in its entirety without pause before casting judgment. The first thing you’ll learn from this exercise: Lead single, “Drunk Girls” is the collection’s weakest leak.

This Is Happening’s opener “Dance Yrself Clean” gets things going perfectly. The slowly volumizing call-to-feet suggests you laugh off the disasters, the mean friends, the jerks, and cut a rug instead: By the 3-minute mark, when the drums get to do their job, Murphy raises his voice (suggesting you raise your hands up), and things explode, you’re likely to take his advice. New York, sometimes I hate you, but here you’re picking me up…

It’s followed by “Drunk Girls,” which after a few spins is a bit of a dud on record, but fits its live surroundings well and ought to be helpful when the Girls Gone Wild franchise licenses it. The lull dissipates with the lusher/musically denser and more melodic “One Touch,” a busy/upbeat new wave-infused anthem that does the chant-along thing more convincingly: “One touch is never enough / people who need people to the back of the bus,” etc.

Murphy’s vocals are strong across the album. They can be a force — a dance drill sergeant or something. On “All I Want” he switches things up, blending them into the surrounding smooth, smeary cacophony to create an ’80s feeling introspective lighter burner. Recent live shower “Change” extends the romantic vibe (“turn on the light, make it easy for me”), but introduces some relationship difficulties: “Never change, this is why I fell in love” vs. “I can change, if it helps you fall in love.” Prom theme 2010.

After those more swooning/lovey bits, Murphy jacks into a slightly higher-gear with the talky clap-along/photo-snapping meta-”we don’t do hits” “Hit” and the now familiar Michael Musto-bait “Pow Pow” (“Advantages to both!”). The more insular, weirdo “Somebody’s Calling Me” is not the same thing as “Somebody’s Watching Me,” though it does play on the ubiquity of contact in his beloved digital age: “Somebody’s calling me to be my girl.” And she also texts him. The warping synth chorus (Murphy warbling along to a few in-the-red notes) and the more straightforward piano keys evoke Biz Markie with an iPhone … in the best way possible. All of this sets up the epic, highly percussive closer “Home.” It builds. The vocals seduce. It could go on for 30 minutes and you’d still be dancing…

It’s cliché to say, but This Is Happening arrives just in time for summer. Any summer. In more ways than one. As more momentarily hot bands flame out after a few months and bad invented genre titles, it’s nice to see Murphy’s longstanding project continually gaining momentum: In the warmer months of 2002, to most folks, DFA was the label that put out the Rapture’s “House Of Jealous Lovers” 12″; in 2010, it’s James Murphy’s imprint sans qualification. Eight years after he got the party started, the band he built to reflect his aesthetic, sound ideals, and recording strategies is operating at its highest peak. This Is Happening may or may not be the last album under the LCD moniker, but with it, Murphy’s shown again he can find endless permutations in what, admittedly, seemed like a pretty rigid formula all those years ago.

This Is Happening is out 5/17 via DFA/Virgin. Don’t forget non-album track “Love In L.A.” (Pony reunion 2040?)

Comments (31)
  1. I’m so excited I just want to puke.

  2. i’m dancing my ass off.

  3. the full album for anyone whose interested. : )

  4. Does anyone know if the rumors that James and his wife separated are true? I heard that somewhere and now I can’t help getting the divorce vibe off of this album.

  5. “dance yrself clean” is absolutely fantastic. and really digging the iggy pop circa the idiot/ talking heads love on this but you gotta admit “somebody’s calling me” is a straight up “nightclubbing” rip like woah

  6. Love lots of it, but not all. 75% of it is excellent, the rest not so much.

  7. I saw them live in NYC last night. Was an amazing show and the new songs sounded great =]

  8. When I read the line, “The first thing you’ll learn from this exercise: Lead single, ‘Drunk Girls’ is the collection’s weakest leak” I knew this review was going to be spot on. I couldn’t agree more with that statement.

    • Same. I wasn’t too excited to listen to any other songs from the album after I hear “Drunk Girls,” but that changed completely when I heard “Dance Yourself Clean.” I’ve been listening to it like crazy for the past two days, it’s such a fun song!!!!

  9. I was saying last night, Murphy is kind of like Ocasek. Though the Cars were super formulaic, it was a good formula. There’s always a song you can get drunk at a bar, dance your ass off and make out with a stranger to. GOOD FORMULA!

  10. LOL @ the last comment

    As great as “Dance Yrself Clean” is, I can’t get over “All I Want”. Amazing song

  11. anyone else hear the influence of the talking heads on this album?

  12. isn’t the last song called home?….

  13. Following Silver, this album is mildly disappointing. To qualify, mildly disappointing following Sound of Silver is, in its own right, very good. Somebody’s Calling Me is the dud for me, quite annoying, I actually enjoy the jerky Drunk Girls (love Pow Pow). What’s nice are the transparent influences, as we know good poets, like musicians, borrow. Great musicians steal (wasn’t TS Eliot a prick?). Milking the cream of Clapton on All I Want (read Wonderful Tonight). Channeling austere Gary Numan synth is nice on I Can Change, well done. Keep it up fellas, and girl!

  14. Drunk Girls is the worst song I’ve heard all year (and that includes some numbskull insisting I check out a band called Shinedown). Honestly, I think LCD is some kind of weird Pitchfork experiment to see if they can hype a mediocre band to stardom. Hello people: the emperor has no clothes!

    • Emperors rarely do.

    • Every blog has to have one guy/girl saying “I don’t get it”.

      Sit in a dark room by yourself and listen to:

      Someone Great
      Losing My Edge
      All I Want
      All My Friends

      If after that you don’t get it thats fine but don’t assume because you don’t get it that it means they are shit.
      It simply means you don’t get it, with every album there are only 2-3 stand out tracks, when they stand out as much as “All My Friends” that is enough!

  15. After listening through a few times, I am satisfied with this album. I think it’s up to LCD standards. It’s in the same vein as previous albums, but it’s not a rehash. It has a great balance of serious songs (I Can Change, Dance Yrself Clean, Home) and silly/fun songs (Pow Pow, Drunk Girls) I can understand not liking LCD Soundsystem, but I think if you already enjoy them, this delivers.

  16. woozefa  |   Posted on Apr 21st, 2010 +1

    took me awhile, but it JUST clicked for me right now. i’m thinking this and the national are going to be my albums of the summer, if not the year.

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