Review Summary: Day in the Life Simulator: the LCD Soundsystem DLC Pack.
LCD Soundsystem are an American rock band from Brooklyn, New York that formed in 2002. The band has been pretty influential throughout the 2000’s with albums like “Sound of Silver” and their self-titled debut being critically acclaimed. They have a dance-oriented style of indie rock that isn’t seen that often. While I’ve listened to some of the bands singles in the past, this is my first time listening to a full album from them. “American Dream” is the band's fourth album, and their first since return from hiatus in 2011.
“oh baby” starts off the record with what almost feels like waking up in the morning. The initial pounding that kicks the song off, slowly turns into a soothing beat that gets filled with synths and keys that flourish and fade away very naturally. James Murphy’s vocals are also smoothly laid over top everything and he sings in a very soothing tone. The track continually builds upon itself and simulates that feeling of waking up really well.
The long songwriting is a trend that continues throughout the record. Many of the songs are very long, with the shortest being just under 5 minutes long. However, due to the nature of the way the songs are structured, and what is presented, a lot of them end up feeling like they don’t warrant that long of a run-time. There are a few exceptions, “how do you sleep?” starts with a rolling drum beat that builds tension. Slowly more elements build in until it explodes into a banger of a beat around the 6 minute mark. However, I’m not a huge fan of James Murphy’s vocals on this song, it feels like he’s just kind of yelping, without any real melody in mind as he yells, “facing east.” “tonite” also takes this idea of things staying the same and uses it as part of its theme. The track is a diss of sorts about modern radio-ready music. James sings about how a lot of modern music on the radio is all saying and doing the same thing and nothing is standing out. They then keep the beat very repetitive to hammer that point home, which makes sense in this case. However, songs like “call the police,” “american dream” and “other voices” feel like they could be trimmed down to 4 minute songs, and would be better off for it.
Lyrically, there are a lot of interesting themes presented here. “change yr mind” and “i used to” are interesting looks into the thoughts and emotions that occur after a beloved band breaks up and the toll that can take on an individual that was in the band. “tonite” is a satire filled piece about modern music. On “black screen” James writes about his relationship with David Bowie, which feels really dark and haunting. However, Murphy doesn’t always convey these themes in the most interesting way. Take “call the police” for example, which is an anthemic song, but most of what Murphy is saying is generic, fight the system types of phrases that just aren’t that enticing to listen to. The production on this track also doesn’t work for this song. It’s written as a U2 or Bruce Springsteen style anthem, but the drums and James Murphy’s vocals are drowned out, making it even more difficult to really get behind the message.
Listening to the album is a lot like making it through a typical day. As a whole it isn’t a bad experience, it just drags in spots and never hits a truly high point. I just wish they trimmed the fat a little and gave us a shorter, more enjoyable album. There are elements of this album that I like a lot. James Murphy presents some interesting lyrical ideas and the band creates instrumentals that really bring the songs to life and help convey those thoughts. However, a lot of the songs here, while catchy and interesting at first, just feel like they’re stretched out far longer than they ever needed to be and James doesn’t always hit the mark lyrically.