Review Summary: Behind The Best New Music“Oh, I get it. Your friends in Arcade Fire made a bad album this year, so that means we have to make one too.”
James Murphy had just awoken from his slumber to a throbbing headache. He opened his crusted eyes to see who was trying to talk to him so early in the morning – whatever time it was. Discovering his vision to be blurred, he could just make out the shape of a small woman.
He knew who it was just by that voice. He had heard it over and over, sometimes soothing, sometimes yelping, but always effective. Although it had been a long, long time since they spoke, there was no way he could forget her smooth, sultry voice.
It was silent for quite a bit after that, for James had just mistaken his long-time former bandmate Nancy Whang for his former workout instructor, Kim Worley. Which he’d seen more recently was unbeknownst to James.
As Nancy corrected him, James could feel his mind clearing up. With his head still pounding at a steady, yet sluggish beat, he muttered:
“I haven’t talked to you in…”
He stopped himself. He was genuinely unsure how long it had been. Whatever amount of time had passed since the disbanding of LCD Soundsystem, it had all blended together in a series of uneventful days at home, then leaving home to get a croissant-egg sandwich (with extra cheese) from down the street, then going back home.
James hadn’t finished his sentence yet. It had been 3 minutes.
“James, do you remember anything from last night? You were frantically e-mailing me abou-“
James stopped listening. Nancy mentioning last night made him notice that he could not, in fact, remember anything from last night. He looked around his living room floor, noticing three synthesizers, four cowbells, a guitar amp with a broken gain knob stuck on 9, and several empty ZIMA bottles.
He looked at Nancy. Still talking.
He unlocked his iPhone and checked the “Sent” folder of his Hotmail account and, sure enough, he had e-mailed Nancy several times last night. Long, meandering blocks of text about his place in the music industry and concert ticket-buying robots alternated with equally long and slightly less meandering lyric documents, most of which were previously titled “Diary Entry #__” along with multiple iPhone voice memos of nothing but drum machines and jerky synth parts. (One such voice memo recording was actually pulled directly for the album. Wait until the end of the story to find out which one!)
He then skimmed the former diary entries. Confused, James muttered “What are these lyrics… I don’t remember writing these at all…”
He then played each voice memo all the way through chronologically, which felt like it took much longer than it did. He probably cut Nancy off from talking when he started the first voice memo, but there was little chance of him noticing either way.
The songs were long, a hallmark of James’ work, but there was nothing declarative about the lot of it. The lack of his signature bursts of emotion and song-structure defying moments of pure nerd-rock glee attributed to this, James admitted in his head. It was while listening to “I Used To
” that he realized that when you take those things away, you have these static, unvarying beats that simply cannot support their song’s runtime. Long intros and outros seemed to be simply tacked on because that’s what he was *supposed* to do in an LCD Soundsystem song, not because he had a reason for doing it.
“What is this,”
James joked, “The verse from ‘Time To Get Away’ – The Album?”
James hiccupped at the end of his ill-conceived punchline.
There were only two tracks in the jungle of voice memos that had all the parts to it. One was titled “Tonite
,” but earlier drafts revealed alternate titles such as “Pow Pow 2
,” “Losing My Edge 3
,” and “Diary Entry #14
.” The track reached for the heights of “Losing My Edge
,” but fell considerably short in comparison due to the fact that all social commentary was kept as surface-level as you would expect from a drunken man in his mid-40s. The other was titled “Emotional Haircut
,” which James at first became furious at upon listening, before realizing it was in fact him performing the song, and not some other band expertly mocking LCD Soundsystem’s style.
After 2 hours of sitting and listening to voice memos, James Murphy realized that he had drunkenly written LCD Soundsystem’s comeback album: “American Dream
He then opened the last e-mail he sent to Nancy, which told her to meet him at his house to record her parts at 10:00AM, sharp.
It was now 1:15PM on a Thursday in New York City.
“You’re here to… record parts?”
Each word from James took a lot of effort to get out. However, when he heard himself speak, he was delighted to find that he sounded like he didn’t really care.
“Yes James, I am here to record parts. Well, I should say ‘part.’ You only gave me one verse! Isn’t this supposed to be the comeback album you were rambling about? Shouldn’t I have more than a feature?”
“Oh, you’re just a baby now.”
“So you *do* remember writing those lyrics?”
James panicked, read the lyric sheets, and panicked even more. Not only was the music he heard himself record and the lyrics he read himself write largely directionless and uninspired, but he was now worrying about the legacy he told everyone he broke his band up to secure.
“Okay, okay, it’s fine. It’s fine! We can undo this. LCD doesn’t need to come back, right? I mean, we even had our own damn movie come out about our final show. We made our mark. No one knows about this yet, how about we just forget abou-“
And for the second time that day, a member of LCD Soundsystem was interrupted just before saying the word “about.”
This time, the interruption was the sound of an e-mail notification.
The subject read: “Re: LCD Soundsystem Reunion Album Confirmed
“Hey there, James!
While this is a highly unorthodox way of announcing new material, we’re all really stoked on hearing what you and the gang have in store for us! We even already put American Dream under our formerly-coveted Best New Music tab! The fans are all hyped, that’s for sure.
- Pitchfork Media
P.S. That joke album cover you sent us was hilarious. You sure do still have your wit!
P.P.S. You seem to have accidentally attached some of your personal diary entries to your original e-mail to us.”
James frantically opened his laptop to find the album cover that he had no memory of slapping together staring at him, lighting his bearded, remorseful face.
James closed MS Paint and accepted what he must do. The news was out, and the fans were excited. Really excited. He was a man with a legacy that he did not want to tarnish. He also knew that, in many a fan’s eyes, he wouldn’t be able to disappoint no matter what the songs sounded like.
The only way he could is by not releasing anything at all. And wouldn’t that be a shame?
Oh, and the part of the album that was pulled straight from James’ voice memos was the off-beat synth solo in “Other Voices