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Going out on top

May 27, 2010

LCD Soundsystem
This Is Happening
May 18, 2010

James Murphy claiming This Is Happening will be his last album as LCD Soundsystem is as preposterous as Michael Jordan’s first retirement. Not only is Murphy the best at what he does right now, but his three albums under the LCD moniker represent his own personal three-peat.

Now he can live his father’s dream as a baseball player (or hide his gambling problems per the commish’s edict for you conspiracy theorists) and then come back wearing number 45 and make three more incredible albums – or something equally preposterous.

However, it’s probably best to keep this review in the present and consider just how great This Is Happening actually is.

Though “Dance Yrself Clean” is a bit of a slow-burner, it is easily the best song on the album, and maybe the best LCD song to date. The most incredible part about the song is that it clocks in just short of nine minutes, but manages to be just as catchy as any two to three minute radio-friendly pop anthem.

“Dance Yrself Clean” is a testament to Murphy’s songwriting talent, and the rest of the album is just icing on that cake. Every song, except the infectious “Drunk Girls,” runs at least five-and-a-half minutes in length, but is constantly providing a different version of the LCD sound.

Murphy’s songs range from thumping low-end to shrill high notes, often within the same song, presenting aural diversity that makes each song feel very special. Though diversity makes the album feel special, the omnipresent aesthetic of “cool” that pervades each song makes it memorable and timeless.

If “Dance Yrself Clean” is the best song on This Is Happening, “I Can Change” is the jealous younger brother constantly nipping at the elder’s heels, trying hard to nab that distinction. I get the feeling that if you give the album enough time, just like with any determined younger sibling, “I Can Change” might just become the favorite. Unlike “Dance Yrself Clean,” the song is more direct, shooting it’s refrain straight at the listener and giving a more immediate good feeling.

The rest of the album hits the highs just as well with hits like “Pow Pow” and “You Wanted a Hit” sticking out of the crowd in particular. These songs are instantly enjoyable and have an awesome power to move feet and hips.

While Murphy may be calling LCD Soundsystem off after this album he isn’t going out with a whimper. This album is his triumph over the Trail Blazers; his dunk over Clyde Drexler. My hope is that whatever Murphy does next is a lot better than M.J. in a Birmingham Barons’ uniform.

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