Review Summary: Overwrought at times, LCD Soundsystem still provide an abstract view of an often muddied genre.
Becoming acquainted with LCD Soundsystem is not exactly charming. Such a potentially arduous relationship takes certain dedication, which includes patiently waiting through conscientiously planned buildups and vocal breakthroughs. And while most of their tracks do appear this way, some have been more straightforward, like “North American Scum” from LCD Soundsystem’s wild, electronic-dance journey, Sound Of Silver
. But with every track that sustains energy like “North American Scum,” LCD Soundsystem can find themselves stuck climbing out of their own buildups, and with This is Happening
’s average track length of over seven minutes, predictability ensues.
Before getting into the meat and potatoes of This is Happening
, singer James Murphy is the focal point of most of the album, rather than the repetitive beats and dance music that would appear much less without such a dramatic singer. Murphy is often adapting his voice with each song’s particular mood, like such exemplified in “Dance Yrself Clean” which begins rather glumly, yet moves towards an ecstasy-laced synth rager with Murphy swiftly changing tones without any hesitation. Meanwhile, in the outrageously fun, yet undoubtedly foolish “Drunk Girls,” Murphy’s chipper side is showcased. Murphy’s vocals along with LCD Soundsystem’s occasional undemanding approach provide a glimpse that this record could be potentially stellar. Even so, “Drunk Girls” is nothing short of a guilty pleasure, as it’s difficult to take the lyrical absurdity of the track seriously.
But Murphy is hardly left for dead, as “One Touch” and “Home” wiggle through the onslaught of noodling synth riffs, and while may not be as delightful as “All My Friends,” they are uniquely placed and executed. And yet, not all is well with LCD Soundsystem, as from “You Wanted A Hit” to “Somebody's Calling Me” there appear to be some sort of musical lax. These three tracks provide a very disinterested dimension of an often intriguing artist. The spoken-word blabber of “Pow Pow” never really stimulates or formulates into something while “Somebody's Calling Me” painfully sloshes around like it was some mishap that accidentally found a way on This is Happening
This is Happening
is a marathon-length listen, as in, if you can find a way to deal with James Murphy’s silly, sometimes bizarre lyrical themes and grand scale tracks, it may be worth the wait. But before listening to This is Happening
realize that this album will hardly inject the vivacious tendencies of today’s best dance artist, yet exhibit an abstract view of how dance music can be manipulated and built through the simplest means.