Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Date Released: January 21, 2005
Produced By: James Murphy
- Daft Punk is Playing at My House
- Too Much Love
- Never as Tired as When I'm Waking Up
- On Repeat
- Disco Infiltrator
- Great Release
- Losing My Edge
- Beat Connection
- Give it Up
- Yeah (Crass version)
- Yeah (Pretentious version)
- Yr City's a Sucker
James Murphy was still the hipster community's king riding into 2005, its Williamsburg posterboy raised on a steady diet of Speedking and late nights working the sound for Six Finger Satellite. Put on the ropes to produce his first full-length by the very people who had initially knighted him, Murphy finally delivered the album the indie world had been waiting for. What a doozy it was, too: LCD Soundsystem was one of the highlights of the year and a hotly debated product that had critics begging for more singles and fans begging for more everything.
"Daft Punk is Playing at My House" was the second single and first song, but it was also the album's finest example of why people loved dance-punk in the first place, whatever it was: Melodies that were impossible to get out of your head, buzzing synths and break-neck beats, namedropping for good measure, the inevitable cowbell. Many argued it the single of the year, but "Daft Punk" would turn out to be misleading because Murphy's famous penchant for vinyl collection had found its way into his work: "Too Much Love" was emphatically not the same brainless fun listeners had enjoyed on the opening track. With this juxtaposition, Murphy had already made his mark: If you wanted hit neatly wrapped singles every time, you were going to listen to disc two.
"Tribulations" was another standout, its natural melody and Murphy's limited range used to great effect as the tense conclusion followed the pattern of other great DFA-produced cuts with a dense build-up and comedown just long enough for you to catch your breath before the band launched into the leadoff single and finest Fall impression on "Movement." Easily the most straightforward rock tune and probably the band's most unhinged moment since "Tired," "Movement" was the sound of LCD Soundsystem barely keeping everything together... Or at least, appearing that way. While drummer Phil Mossman held things steady behind the kit, Murphy did his best "fat guy in a t-shirt doing all the singin'-uh" bit and threw down a guitar solo for good measure. At just over three minutes, it was the most glaringly out-of-place song on the album and though lauded individually, never convinced critics in context.
"Never as Tired as When I'm Waking Up" was the perfect title for the midway point, alternately seen as both a welcome breather and a poor segue coming off "Movement." Either way, its druggy haze helps you ease into another quintessential DFA track in "On Repeat:" The long, percussion-driven build-up and eventual release can be traced back through Le Tigre and Hot Chip remixes, but perhaps its closest relative is the remix of Blues Explosion's "Mars, Arizona." "Thrills" sounds like a pure audio experiment with the safety of cowbell behind it, while "Disco Infiltrator" should've been a single in all its handclap-induced, bass-shaking, glitterball-loving glory.
The other major talking point of this album was "Great Release," the Eno-esque finale clearly influenced by Another Green World and its ilk. The piano-driven ballad was a masterstroke and had critics floored; if any on the jury were still out on the issue of whether Murphy could make great albums in addition to great singles, they were back in by the end of this track and the end of the album.
If the album looked fairly coherent on its own, the accompanying disc collecting the band's singles sans pareil probably hurt it more than helped; with disc two, listeners were able to see what all the fuss was about leading up to this album... But they were also able to see the innate flaws in crafting a full-length that Murphy had used as his approach to LCD Soundsystem.
The laziest critics justified their derisive commentary by suggesting Murphy had proven for them how it was impossible to make "Beat Connection" nine times over. Once more, the joke was on them: Murphy openly admitted that he had never intended to do so in the first place. In context, LCD Soundsystem is as good a debut as one could've hoped for with enough surprises, twists, turns, and cowbell to sate even the most jaded of listeners. Three years on from the band's introduction to the world with Losing My Edge, James Murphy finally had the firepower to answer critics and fans alike asking who could possibly reproduce such a cleverly self-aware moment: Himself. PMasterson
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