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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

5.4

LCD Soundsystem
This Is Happening

This album isn't very good.

I know what you're thinking - "but it's James Murphy, he can do no wrong". I know. I used to think that as well. Don't just read that one line and persecute me! Your A.D.D is killing our relationship!

Ok, hear me out...

Every LCD Soundsystem record so far has had the gimmicky radio-friendly lead single. Their self-titled debut featured that silly song about Daft Punk turning up to your 'kegger' and playing mad techno tunes until the early morn. While the undeniably brilliant Sound Of Silver was preluded by North American Scum, a light-hearted political punch at Georgie Dubya and the embarrassment involved with holding a US passport.

So when Drunk Girls hit the radio airwaves, complete with it's sing-a-long chorus and generally 'safe' comical stabs, it wasn't a big shock. The surprise is that while the previous lead singles were tolerable and (somewhat) fitting within the context of the LP, Drunk Girls awkwardly jumps out of the album, sounding unsuccessfully ironic and embarrassingly opportunistic as an attempt to catch the attention of a lower denominated audience (ie. girls and fellas who turned Paris Hilton and her fellow squirrel-flashers into icons and need an easy-to-remember chorus to yell out at 3am while Smashmouth'd at their local sweatbox nightclub).

But it's the position as the album's second track, following on from the brilliant fragility-to-triumph transition of the opener, Dance Yrself Clean, where the damage of Drunk Girls to the overall record's momentum is most felt. Not only is it an immediately skipworthy track, but it also destroys any chance This Is Happening has of being consumed as a single body of work.

Murphy defends the "obvious first single" tradition later on with You Wanted A Hit, which ironically is the other clear low-point of the album, with a line of argument that sounds like it was conceived while on a trek somewhere between Downers Mountain and Drunk Logic Argument Town.

But there are still a handful of great moments on This Is Happening, where LCD Soundsystem show why they've been a successful pioneering electronic act for the past five years. The previously mentioned Dance Yrself Clean features Murphy doing what he does best - contradicting an honest retrospective tolerance with an unashamed judgmental iron fist. All I Want (aside from the Bono-esque grande finale) is another clear highlight, with the swing between punk rock looseness and a more synthetic backbone perfectly contrasted by Murphy's brilliantly stark, emotive vocals. This is carried over on I Can Change where the honesty of the lyrical content is nicely skewed and undermined by the glittery up-tempo composition.

Unfortunately, these highlights - as brilliant as they are - don't save This Is Happening from being an unsettlingly apprehensive musical journey. This is not your retirement record Jim.

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Record Reviews
LCD Soundsystem

 

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Comments

Vacuus Animus

I dig 'Dance Yrself Clean' too, but the album is just such a disappointment; and it never seems to get better with each listen.

1 decade ago

(nobody)

Correct weight!

1 decade ago

Wayne

Pretty much agree, although the appeal of LCD has always escaped me anyway.

1 decade ago

Sean

Jonny, it's like you read my mind with this review. I think the awful ones are the ones you point out and you also highlight the only three GREAT songs on the record in my mind. Kinda scary. Definitely disappointed with this record...but I'd probably be slightly more generous and give it a 7.

1 decade ago

flukazoid

To be honest, the record in all its awkwardness has grown on me a little since I first played (and completely "meh'd" at) it. But even despite that, after more and more listens, I think you're right Jonny.

"This is not your retirement record Jim"


I agree. I kind of wished he'd left on Sound of Silver and left us all agape and wondering what might have been if he'd continued.

1 decade ago

(nobody)

The biggest disapointment of the year so far.

You are right, it is impossible to listen to from start to finish.

1 decade ago

(nobody)

Guys, give it a few more listens. And don't skip anything.

I know some people say something's a 'grower' when it's actually just 'shit', but this isn't one of those occasions.

1 decade ago

tttt

don't agree with many reviews here, but this one is correct. murphy isn't as smart or funny as he thinks he is and his music is meandering and dull.

1 decade ago

Lochy

You lost me at:

"Well maybe we don't do hits"

1 decade ago

Lochy

What about the good ole days:

"And with a face like a dad and a laughable stand
You can sleep on the plane or review what you said
When you're drunk and the kids leave impossible tasks
You think over and over, "hey, I'm finally dead."

1 decade ago

Lochy

How bout those Besnard Lakes?

1 decade ago

castratii

Nice to see an honest review of this. The Bowie rip off blows. Can't believe no one said to them "you can't do that".

1 decade ago

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