Rating: 4/5 stars
After taking a bit of a hiatus, the James Murphy headed LCD Soundsystem has finally gotten around to releasing a new album, their first since 2010s “This is Happening.” The album, “American Dream,” comes six and a half years since Murphy and company announced their “last show ever.”
During this period of band inactivity, Murphy found himself staying active by taking a part in everything from directing to developing his own espresso.
Joining Murphy for this sophisticated, yet enjoyably trippy collection of electronic art rock features the likes of Pat Mahoney (Writer/Drums/Vocals), Tyler Pope (Writer/Bass Guitar), Gavin Russom (Writer/Synthesizer), Al Doyle (Writer, Vocals, Guitar), among others. Leading off the 10-track album are the smooth flowing textures of “Oh Baby” which provides a calm and relaxing vibe to draw the listener in.
The second track sees a bit of a shift in both tempo and complexity. “Other People” uses a wide array of instruments and effects, offering great value for both dancing to and pondering the meaning of some of the lyrics (assuming there’s any at all) such as “You’re just a baby now” and “You hate the idea that you’re missing your youth.”
The album hit a bit of a bland patch with the next two tracks feeling a bit too predictable. However, the fifth track, “How do you Sleep?” is where the album really begins to hit its creative stride.
One of the longer cuts on the album coming in at nine minutes and 12 seconds, it allows the proper amount of time to fully explore the wild journey from a steady drum and vocals into a free fall of dreamy vibes. “Tonite” works in a similar way the previous few tracks did; a more upbeat change of pace manages to smoothly complement the previous track.
“Call the Police” and the album’s title track “American Dream” were released simultaneously as the first singles from the album. With these two tracks comes the realization of Murphy’s goal to aim for more conventional pop structures in his songs.
A key track for validating the album’s overall strength, “Emotional Haircut” brings along a punk-rock feel with the opening guitar lick being undeniably reminiscent of “Mess Around” by Cage the Elephant.
Last but certainly not least, at 12 minutes and six seconds the closing track “Black Screen” is also the album’s longest. The heavy mellowness of the track helps smoothly circle the album back to where it started as far as moods goes.
Overall, the flow from track to track on this album works nicely in a way that listeners will feel it makes sense without it being too predictable. Listeners come across Murphy wandering around a world he is not quite sure he understands yet, but sees a meaning for it all somewhere out in the distance.
For listeners of LCD Soundsystem both old and new, there is something intriguing and a bit mysterious that can be found within this album, a quality that should not be overlooked.
Photo: Tore Saetre via flickr