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LCD Soundsystem redeems modern music

Matthew Solarski | Thursday, February 17, 2005

It takes James Murphy and the LCD Soundsystem precisely three notes to transmit an irresistibly feverish dance-rock groove to every body within earshot. One, two and boom – the listener is plunged into the throes of “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” now officially the definitive disco-punk anthem (start eBay-ing those outmoded Rapture records now, kids) and the first of nine party-starters on the LCD Soundsystem’s debut record that simply do not relent. Hyphens are in short supply after Murphy and company fuse the best of every musical genre ever into one delectable package. Behold as the LCD Soundsystem conjures the living ghosts of Prince, Can, Gang of Four, P.I.L., Michael Jackson, The Fall, Suicide, New Order, The Jam, Blondie and sure, Daft Punk and serenades them with frontman Murphy’s ridiculously self-aware, deadpan vocals. Marvel at the Velvet Underground-esque swagger of the “Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up,” which arrives like a hazy afternoon rain following the high-noon-sun head-charge of “Movement.” And swoon over those vocals, which sound insufferably cool no matter what they are saying; the very definition of hip.Graciously, Murphy does have a lot of good to say with them. Some would call this a thinking-person’s dance record, and the description holds up when Murphy delivers choice quips like, “it’s like a movement / without all the bother / of all of the meaning” and closes a verse by announcing, “your favorite band helps you sleep.” On some tracks Murphy flirts with conventional dance-floor lyricism, in the process creating brilliant pastiche. The phenomenal “Disco Infiltrator” contains the hilarious banter, “but all I know / is all I know / it’s the disco infiltrator / fo’ sho’.”Handclaps and cowbell, the two quintessential ingredients of any self-respecting dance-punk record, do indeed abound here. So too do infectious basslines, such as the groove-driving “Tribulations,” easily the record’s most accessible track. LCD Soundsystem’s sublime power rests in its willingness to retain these popular elements while venturing into club, dub, house, jungle and acid territory, and never compromising an ounce of that characteristic self-awareness. The Soundsystem wraps up its masterpiece with the gorgeous, sprawling “Great Release” which should pique the interest of fans of Death Cab For Cutie’s “Transatlanticism” with its initial similarities to that record’s title track.The LCD moniker has been tossed around in the indie community for some time now, based solely on the strength and promise of a number of vinyl singles, including “Losing My Edge, ” James Murphy’s snide ode to hipster-dom. The savvy and generous folks at EMI have collected practically all of those now-legendary cuts onto a second bonus disc, which accompanies the debut record, building perfection upon perfection. One spin of either record will shatter the winter’s pall and set woebegone bodies in motion, guaranteed.