Fans of James Murphy’s iconic New York-based alternative-electro ensemble have been left with an LCD Soundsystem-shaped hole in their hearts ever since the band gave their notice of retirement back in 2011. Wounds were partially healed in 2015 when Murphy spontaneously dropped the melancholic “Christmas Will Break Your Heart”, marking the first new material from the band in five years and sparking rumours of a reunion. Then, last year, we received official confirmation of a come-back tour and (better yet) a tentative 2017 release date for their fourth album, their first since 2010’s This Is Happening. Now, after six long years, here we are; LCD Soundsystem are finally back in business.
“Call the Police” and “American Dream” are a tantalising taste of what is arguably one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the decade and, at the risk of sounding cliché, they’re everything that fans could have hoped for. The more upbeat of the two, “Call the Police” is a bustle of swirling guitars and driving bass that harks back to Berlin-era Bowie with a touch of late-eighties U2, and features some of LCD Soundsystem’s most overtly political lyrics. A true youth anthem with an impossibly infectious groove, the track sees Murphy tackling conformity and the establishment only to cut through the fervour with a stirring cry of “we don’t waste time with love/it’s just death from above” to land on a more sentimental note. Whether you’re going through a breakup, straining under the pressure of exams, struggling to figure out your future or all of the above, there always seems to be an LCD Soundsystem song that sums up exactly how you’re feeling. This is one that might actually leave you feeling empowered.
they’re everything that fans could have hoped for
“American Dream” was referred to by those lucky enough to hear the new songs at the band’s five-night residency at Brooklyn Steel last month as “Twin Peaks-esque”, and it’s easy to see why. Haunting, nostalgic, melancholic, but achingly beautiful, the track captures a Lynchian aesthetic with soaring synthetic strings and a dreamy, atmospheric quality that recalls Angelo Badalamenti’s theme for the cult TV series. Murphy’s characteristically tender vocals and poignant lyrics are unmistakeable though, tapping into something similar to whatever it was that fuelled “All My Friends” but (dare I say it) with an even harder-hitting emotional payoff. This is Murphy at perhaps his most vulnerable (and most relatable), opening up on lost loves, past regrets, the anguish of getting old, and, quite possibly, his decision to step away from the limelight. At the same time, it’s not quite like anything he has ever released. If LCD Soundsystem has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always a surprise around the corner.
It’s also somewhat surprising that neither “Call the Police” nor “American Dream” is anything like the kind of beat-orientated bangers that LCD Soundsystem is famous for, but that shouldn’t be a cause for concern. There’s no doubt plenty of room on the upcoming album for that but equally, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the new material will sound anything like what we’ve heard before. If these tracks are anything to go by, LCD Soundsystem are about to unveil yet another side to their already eclectic character and, although it may be too early to tell, possibly their best album yet.