Sunday, April 1, 2007

LCD Soundsystem Returns With More Brilliance

Listening to Timbaland's new solo album, I begin to devise a mental list of those artists the superproducer should have worked with. Yoko Ono seems like an obvious one. Jarvis Coker, maybe. And of course, LCD Soundsystem mastermind and 1/2 of the DFA production duo, James Murphy. Murphy's first work as LCD Soundsystem included a series of singles followed by a brilliant double album. One can imagine that Murphy boasts a pretty serious record collection, or at least an extensive knowledge of music and its history. He has a knack for crafting pop hooks, but spends much of his time breaking them down, or pushing the limits of a song far past where you would imagine it heading. Somehow it all works, and on that first record, he created something that felt subversive, cool, and reasonably accessible. Such was accomplished without appearing to do too much or be trying too hard to do anything but create good music. The un-official followup, a nonstop 45 minute mix commissioned by Nike, was again catchy, while lacking Murphy's unique, half-spoken vocal delivery.

Thankfully, Sound of Silver brings Murphy back to the microphone. The lengthy monologues that characterized his early work are all but gone, while Murphy seems to be finding even greater confidence in his singing voice. At the same time, he's unafraid to distort it or slow it down for an interesting effect. Single "North American Scum" showcases just what makes LCD brilliant, as it retains the bounce of "Tribulations" (one of his first record's finest numbers) while also bringing in yelling children and sarcastic lyrics. The song works as both anthem and critique, pointing out many of the faults of North America, while also finding confidence and identity through it. Elsewhere, Murphy seems disillusioned with the party culture he was once a part of, multiple times referring to his removal from the New York scene. On closer, "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down," he notes the city remains much the like one he once loved - while at the same time it is this exact fact that means he must move on.

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