In case you missed it, LCD Soundsystem are playing a lot of shows at Brooklyn Steel this year. On the heels of their residency there in April — which kicked off the fledgling venue’s opening — they announced another seven for this month, and a bunch more in December, amidst their world tour behind their long-awaited and highly anticipated new album, American Dream. Becoming a temporary house band for Brooklyn Steel has seemingly been a little blurry for the group, too. “This is show four… Is it five? It’s show five,” James Murphy said at the beginning of last night’s set.
Plenty of people have made jokes about the sheer ubiquitousness of LCD in NYC this year, and some skew more cynical and interpret the recurring residencies as being built on false scarcity and hype, rather than LCD doing two nights at Radio City or shooting for Madison Square Garden again or something, as if those would be better settings than seeing them in a club. Aside from all that: If you’re an LCD fan and not yet burnt out on the still-newfound ability to see them constantly half a decade after they broke up, these are some of the best shows you’ll see in 2017.
Tonally, this residency is pretty much the same as the last one. There are those awesome T-shirt designs with the joking tour details on the back, in which a whole month is laid out with the handful of Brooklyn Steel dates and a ton of “OFF” nights. Murphy is still urging everyone to not film or take photos constantly, but to be there present in the moment. He’s still narrating the show, letting people know when the band is about to play new songs and asking the crowd not to post them online, etc. People might be sliding on the former, but overall, it works, and it’s a hell of a thing these days to see a packed room lose themselves in a show with no thoughts of Instagram or Snapchat.
One slight difference: The album is done this time, we know about it, and hearing more new songs is starting to let this thing take shape.
The three new ones they’ve played at almost every one of these shows include “Call The Police” and “American Dream,” which have both been out for a minute now, and “Tonite.” “Call The Police” remains a revelation live — especially last night, where they opened the show with it for the first time rather than saving it for the block of new songs later in the set. All three have been tested at several shows now, and “Tonite” is another one that’s an immediately welcome addition to the old stuff.
Alongside those songs, the band also played “Emotional Haircut” and “Change Yr Mind,” the former of which appeared at a couple first residency shows, the latter of which was debuted on Tuesday. Like “Tonite,” “Change Yr Mind” is a logical extension of LCD’s past, a great example of exactly what you’d thought and hoped new LCD might sound like. It rides a pulsing electronic rhythm, lacerated by warped Robert Fripp-esque guitars reminiscent of late-’70s Bowie. Murphy stays lowkey through most of it, sticking to the same melody as the track continues to push forward until it finally gets to its climactic refrain chant of “You can change your mind.” It’s not as dramatic or big of a song as “Call The Police,” but it’s the fourth track on American Dream and it’s easy to imagine it being a perfect transitional song amidst the middle of the album.
”Emotional Haircut” is, so far, the outlier of the new songs, and in some ways an outlier in their catalog in general. It finds LCD going much further in the post-punk direction than ever before, built on a tumbling drum part, a throbbing and rumbling bass part, and brittle guitar punctuations. In the verse, Murphy’s lines frequently trade off with backing vocals near-deadpanning the title; it sounds right off of a Mission Of Burma album or something. Then, the thing erupts into all this intense noise and Murphy yelling at the end, bellowing “Yeah!” in a melody that feels like a nod to their “Jump Into The Fire” cover. Placed as the penultimate track on American Dream, it’ll be interesting to see how this one drops you into the album’s closer.
Amongst the five new songs we’ve heard so far, there are variations in approach and sound. But considering that this also means we’ve heard half the album, it’s becoming easier to see how all this can fit together, how LCD may have approached a fittingly aged version of their sound, able to toss off dance beats and infectious synths like always but mixing it in with something a little more gnarly, or conversely something that’s not at all afraid to be pretty.
In the meantime: LCD in 2017 are not a live act to take for granted. The new songs all sound great already, and otherwise they’re sticking to the tried and true hits. “Get Innocuous!” is even crazier live than on Sound Of Silver; the trilogy of “You Wanted A Hit” into “Tribulations” into “Movement” is a wild 20-minute ride; “Someone Great” swelling to fill a cavernous room amplifies its somehow relatable and emotive ambiguity. Who cares how many shows LCD is playing at the same venue this year. It still hasn’t gotten old to end the night with nearly 2,000 people jumping and singing along to “All My Friends,” and the fact that this is all leading somewhere concrete now, towards a new album, makes it all the more exciting.