Secret Meeting score: 86
by Joseph Purcell
In 2011, LCD Soundsystem’s leader, James Murphy, decided to call an end to the band in order to work on other projects. This ending came in the form of an epic four-hour set at Madison Square Garden, with Arcade Fire joining them on stage for a raucous version of North American Scum, which seemed a fitting, if not premature end, to one of the noughties most beloved musical innovators. Tracks such as Daft Punk is playing at My House, Losing My Edge and New York, I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down had been the perfect musical accompaniments to the ever changing emotional make up of my twenties.
In a Somerset field in June 2016, I was fortunate enough to witness the reformed LCD Soundsystem after a month of watching every bit of shaky mobile phone footage on YouTube from their triumphant Primavera set. From the opening beats of Us Vs Them, to the incredible All My Friends, their triumphant return to Glastonbury was the clear festival highlight.
With this performance in mind, I was both hopeful and fearful of a new record. As with any musical reformation, there is always an element of doubt regarding the motivation behind a return and whether it can live up to previous releases. While at the same time, it’s only natural to get excited when a band you love releases new music.
So, to my delight, LCD’s fourth studio album American Dream, is a statement that heralds their much-needed return. Oh Baby is a majestic, sprawling opening – the music perfectly building to the four-minute mark when it subtly intertwines with Murphy’s effortless vocal, creating an emotional response from the listener with such simplicity. Recalling, undoubtedly intentionally, the bass line from one of their finest moments, Someone Great.
The centrepiece of the album, and for me the absolute highlight, is the incredible, How Do You Sleep? At nine minutes and twelve seconds, this is LCD Soundsystem at their peak. A slow building beast that creeps gradually around Murphy’s haunting vocal to an incredible explosion. A piece of music, beginning with such simplicity, that bursts into a classic LCD floor-filler as Murphy’s cathartic rant (aimed at former friend and DFA co-founder Tim Goldsworthy) is something to totally immerse yourself in for the following six minutes.
American Dream continues to delight with the dance heavy beats of Tonite and Call the Police, followed by the punk infused Emotional Haircut. Drawing the record to a close, Black Screen reflectively references Murphy’s email correspondences with David Bowie, and his regrets at turning down the opportunity to co-produce his final gift, Blackstar – ‘I’m bad with people things, but I should have tried more.’ And, while that is a decision Murphy may take some time to get over, one would imagine that Bowie would be extremely proud of what his friend has gone onto produce since.