Long time no see LCD Soundsystem. After all these years, they’ve finally come back with two new singles, “call the police” and “american dream”, a small taste of the acclaimed dance-punk-electronic band’s upcoming fourth studio album. The two tracks bring back that familiar mix of alt rock and electronica that LCD Soundsystem has come to embody so well, though perhaps this time a sound more melancholy and nostalgic, a fun but also mature commentary on modern life and seeing things from a different perspective. The two releases are welcome additions to LCD Soundsystem’s overall body of work and only get me more hyped for their newest album.
“call the police” is the more rock of the two songs on the double sided single, mixing driving guitar, power synths, and James Murphy’s higher, filtered voice (still great sounding, by the way). The sound seems timeless and far reaching and I can hear a variety of musical inspiration throughout alt rock history (so many David Bowie vibes though), with the sound culminating in an overall mid-2000s pop rock sound à la The Killers. Except for maybe the high guitar, which pull the song more alt rock than LCD Soundsystem usually go, this song seems a very stereotypical but solid representation of what LCD Soundsystem is all about–sort of groovy and psychedelic punk music, like angsty rock and funky disco had a baby in space. The confidence in the musicianship is quite impressive here. James Murphy never seems to fumble with what he wants musically from this track and beautifully blends inspirations and motifs into one cohesive sound, something that can only come from being a seasoned artist. Overall “call the police” is a good track but doesn’t seem to bring anything new musically. Masterfully done, but I’ve heard a lot of this before (though perhaps not done as well as it is done here).
“american dream” is more heavily electronic and thus I like it more than “call the police”. I originally fell in love with LCD Soundsystem all those years ago because of the combination of alt rock, quirky and digital electronica, and James Murphy’s well delivered voice and youthful lyricism. And I feel “american dream” brings this version of LCD Soundsystem back. Like “call the police” this song feels nostalgic in its sound, pulling from the early years of electronic music in its instrumentation but the 1950s in its composition. However, the depth and space the sound (but especially the lower register bass) occupies and the complexity of the mixing pull the whole thing into 2017. What I liked most about this track was actually the melody. It sounds dreamy and heart wrenching, especially combined with the chord progression (I’m a sucker for a doowop chord progressions).
Lyrically, James Murphy is cynical but also simultaneously hopeful about modern life and his place in it, bringing a unique, thoughtful, and overall mature (but by no means boring or serious) perspective to a popular and indie music scene that always needs it. Both “call the police” and “american dream” seem to be commentaries on modern American life from the viewpoint of a now aged Gen X-er. This perspective is a breath of fresh air, especially since the music scene (pop especially, though alternative rock isn’t exempt) focuses mostly on an audience aged 14-23, severely limiting our understanding of the overall experiences of normal human beings that don’t fall within this age group or its perceived inclination for uninhibited partying and alcoholism.
LCD Soundsystem performed both “call the police” and “american dream” on SNL (although both were truncated versions of their originals) and the live stages showcase the musicianship and craft of LCD Soundsystem’s sound. James Murphy’s voice is pure and cuts right through the live instrumentation. So masterful and satisfying and I forget a little about the anguish about no new LCD Soundsystem for the last 6 years. Everyone who performs is middle-aged; all are veteran musicians and seem to really enjoy what they are doing and are good at it, devoted to the successful delivery of each sound (especially that guy in the back with all the complex electronic equipment–so awkward but also unaware of it and having a great time). The music sounds even better live when you can see all the parts blending seamlessly into a pleasing and concentrated sound. I definitely think the live versions are worth checking out because watching each artist’s performance brings a sort of nostalgia and authenticity to the music, highlighting the artistry of the musicianship that may be hard to conceptualize with only the studio versions.
Welcome back LCD Soundsystem!