on March 19, 2007
LCD Soundsystem, the band whose house Daft Punk played, are back with 'Sound Of Silver', their second album of dance influenced punk, picking up where their first left off. DFA Records co-producer James Murphy has again used his production talents on his bands latest release, throwing in more beats, influences and cowbells than ever before to create another fantastic party album.
Slow building opener 'Get Innocuous' is classic LCD. Never quite knowing where it's going to end up, you find yourself drawn into its hypnotic rhythm and infectious drumbeat, reminiscent of the band's early track 'Beat Connection', as the song progresses, 80s dance music influences becomes apparent. This 80s theme continues throughout the rest of 'Sound Of Silver', making it seem like a collection of rare 12" records from the decade.
The title track sounds like a dark version of New Order's 'Blue Monday' had it been made by Kraftwerk with Ian Curtis on vocals. It's refreshing to hear Murphy trying out various vocal styling instead of sounding like he is just talking to you with a nasal cold, which he does on current single 'North American Scum', this albums 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House'. The influences keep on rolling with Human League vs. Kraftwerk on 'Someone Great' and 'Watch The Tapes' sound like a surreal mash-up of Donna Summer and The Beach Boys.
Despite all the 80s influences on 'Sound Of Silver', there are moments of pure LCD style genius - 'All My Friends' builds and builds leaving you hanging for an epic close which never quite happens, yet reminding you of all those great nights you've had with your friends. 'Us vs. Them' is a slice of funky disco which will not doubt get you dancing. Album closer 'New York, I Love You' is a gentler quieter moment, which almost feels like it is the wind down the morning after the party from the night before that makes up the rest of the album.
Hands down this album is far better than LCD Soundsystem's debut. Resurrecting the 1980s in just over 55 minutes, 'Sound Of Silver' combines the essential music of the decade and modern production values of today together wonderfully to create something that sounds so fresh, nostalgic and enjoyable.
on April 24, 2007
Dance music may still pack out clubs, but the wider influence it wielded has all but evaporated; witness the lengthening silence from such former chart staples as The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim. Apologists say that dance music isn't really album-fodder anyway, but even in single form, it's trounced these days by Britpop, nu-pop, hip-hop, indie-pop, Keaneplay and R&B. The appeal of cheering on a club DJ simply doesn't transfer that well to the home environment, it seems.
This shouldn't be cause for too much gloom. Quite the opposite, in fact, as dance music's great cultural breakthrough - the demystification of the recording process - means that thousands can now make music in their own bedrooms, free to explore outside the strict parameters of club culture.
The touchstones for this new form of computer-groove music are not so much Detroit techno icons such as Derrick May and Juan Atkins, but Kraut-rockers like Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk, early synth-rock pioneers such as Silver Apples and Suicide, and minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Terry Riley. James Murphy, who to all intents and purposes is LCD Soundsystem, admitted as much on his single "Losing My Edge", name-checking everyone from Can to Captain Beefheart, going on to notable success with his 2005 debut album. Now Murphy returns with Sound of Silver, a quantum leap beyond LCD's debut.
Apart from the closing piano ballad "New York I Love You", the album's nine tracks are methodically built, sometimes from the simplest elements - the single-note bassline of "Time To Get Away", the lone repeated chord of "Get Innocuous", the re-synching pianos of " All My Friends" - laid over the interlocking rhythms. The tone is so discreetly minimal that it's a shock to reach the end of a track and realise that itchy rhythm guitar is now driving the groove, or that a piercing, atonal violin has muscled its way in somewhere.
Murphy hasn't yet settled on a vocal style of his own, with individual tracks sounding as though haunted by the spirits of Bowie or Byrne. But his songwriting displays an admirably broad range of subjects: the dubious desire to re-experience teenage emotions; the deceit of "politricks" ; the numbing impact of bereavement; and, in "North American Scum", the contrast between American and European attitudes. It makes for a diversely entertaining hour or so, but without that nagging suspicion that you ought to be on a dancefloor. It's possible to discern in Sound of Silver the sound of the future crystallising out of the past.
Above all, I love the tracks 'Us v Them', 'Time To Get Away 'and 'North American Scum' .