So first things first. Let’s celebrate we’ve been running this blog merrily for more than FIVE YEARS! Well done us. And what a constant source of great music and discussion it’s been.
And how apt that we turn to a band after whom the blog was (kind of) named. And a band that has glued us all together musically for many years. We’re talking, of course, about James Murphy and his merry band of LCD wizards.
Second things second. This is a really good album. He’s at the top his game. It’s LCD Soundsystem FFS, what else was it going to be? What I’d like to get into is this: is it a GREAT album? And can something be a GREAT album if it wears its inflences so strongly on its sleeve that it’s impossible to ignore them.
Let’s start with the simple positives. The songwriting is great, and all the lyrical content, with his obsession about getting older, loneliness, disaffection, it’s as as good as anything he’s done. AND, despite the LOOOOOONG running time, I think they pull it off. I was a bit daunted when I saw list of 6, 7, 8, 9 minute songs – but on the whole, they’re little works of art that build their own internal momentum.
So what about that influences thing? Murphy’s mentioned in a number of interviews being inspired by Bowie to make another album, and to do exactly what he wanted to do, regardless of what the audience wants. He’s sure done that. But my goodness, those influences are SO plain the mix. Here’s a list of ones that jumped out on me on pretty much a first listen:
Emotional Haircut – Jesus H Christ, this is pure Joy Division. Could it sound any more like it was produced by Martin Hannett? That drum mix is quintessential Joy Division.
How Do You Sleep? – Oh man, name your early 80s influences. Siouxise? Cure? New Order? Bauhaus? Hell, this could be a bloody band from Leeds in 1982.
Change Your Mind – That guitar part is STRAIGHT from Bowie’s Scary Monsters. You think I’m exaggerating?
I could go on. There’s heaps of New Order and Joy Division influences, but Bowie is the veil than hangs over it all.
And then there are even times when LCD feel like they’re doing a cover of themselves. Do you know what I mean?
Call The Police
Other Voices (again, man, that Robert Fripp-esque guitar that could be from any number of Bowie albums!)
– both of these could have appeared on any of the LCD albums since Day 1. And they feel both wonderfully familiar, but also it’s as I’ve actually heard them before.
So I guess what I’m asking is: does this matter? We talk a lot on this blog about influences and being derivative and being original. Will that, in the end, mean that this is an album I play for quite a bit, then shelve because, when it comes down to it, I might as well listen to Unknown Pleasures or Heroes? Or has Murphy pulled this off with such brio and force and passion, that he’s moulded all the sounds he’s pilfered from his heroes into something new?
Right now, I don’t know. I’m so enjoying listening to it. But I do have a nagging voice in the back of my head. And occassionally, I’ve laughed out loud at how obvious he’s been about stealing a sound.
Over to you, Brothers. And here’s to another 5 years!