LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

by Kenzie Fitzpatrick Rating:9 Release Date:2017-09-01

There has always been more to LCD Soundsystem than meets the eye. James Murphy has been unflinchingly open and honest for, well, forever. That's why when the band announced its reunion 6 years after splitting and playing their last show at Madison Square Garden, there was a lengthy statement posted on both the band's website and Facebook page which had very obviously been written by James himself. He knew fans would have questions – and he anticipated and answered them before they were even asked. 

Just like every other reunion that's been announced over the last several years, some fans were more excited than others. Oddly enough, some were even angry. Upon the announcement that there would be a new record entitled American Dream, however, I was in the excited camp. What fan wouldn't want more of James Murphy in their life?  

If you're familiar with the band, American Dream is exactly what you might expect. That is, the album’s themes are in direct opposition to its title. Murphy has always been hyper self-aware, critical, and deprecating. He writes about what he sees and experiences, no matter how personal it is. That's part of what makes LCD Soundsystem so great. As a result, there’s a darker, more mournful undercurrent woven throughout the album's 1 hour and 8-minute play time.  
 
Opener, ‘Oh Baby’ is a slow burn. It's a rumination on the disintegration of a relationship which builds up slowly and carefully over the course of its 5:50-minute length, only to come crashing down on its head. The beat behind ‘Other Voices’ is reminiscent of ‘Pow Pow,’ off of 2010's fantastic, This Is Happening. You can practically hear Murphy singing, "From this position..."  

However, it's important to note that it's been 7 years since the release of This Is Happening. Time changes everyone (for better or worse), and it's certainly been no different to Murphy. His sense of defeat and weariness is palpable, especially on tracks like 'Change Yr Mind.' He sings, "I’m not dangerous now / The way I used to be once / I'm just too old for it now," with a tone of voice that can only be described as heartbreaking.

The title track, ‘American Dream’ is a soul-crushing slow dance to the futility of such quests as the one-night stand. "So you kiss and you clutch / But you can't fight that feeling / That your one true love is just awaiting your big meeting," he sings. It's a hard song not to identify with. We've all tried to find (and, in some cases, force) meaning into our lives to make the unbearable and mundane feel that much more real. As Murphy knows, this hardly ever works, and most often leads us to feel even emptier.

On epic 12-minute album closer, ‘Black Screen,’ Murphy reflects on his relationship with the late David Bowie. "You fell between a friend / And a father." It's the kind of admission that's often kept to oneself because of how fucking scary it can be to say to someone's face. Nevertheless, it's good to hear Murphy saying these things now.

LCD Soundsystem perfectly mixes its brand of unparalleled dance punk with lyricism that is smart, self-assured, and frankly, quite wise for its genre. That's what makes American Dream so special. I would imagine it's exciting, unexpected, and unique to new fans. The rest of us are just grateful to have Murphy back.

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