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LCD Soundsystem
Sound Of Silver

Rating: 9/10 ?

March 21, 2007
From his first eponymous long player to this new 9-track album, James Murphy has been one busy dance-punk beaver. At the same time he was working on Sound Of Silver, Murphy was commissioned by Nike to write a workout jam which came to life as 45:33, both of those projects on the table while concurrently getting dance punk remixers to restructure his brand new tracks to release another digital album, Sounds Like Silver. All this was in the works at the same time, and all before Sound Of Silver's official release date. Sheesh - that's enough to drive anyone crazy.

With his fingers in so many pots, one would think Murphy's focus would be as scattered as that of a child visiting PeeWee's Playhouse. Rather than being all over the place, however, Murphy couldn't be more on point with this dance-(post)-punk masterpiece.

The biggest complaint I had with LCD Soundsystem was the excess of it all; there was simply too much going on, both within individual tracks (the majority of them reaching six minutes or more) and across the album as a whole (sixteen cuts spanning two discs). Such output is pretty ambitious for anyone at any point in their career, but for a debut it runs the risk of overkill on the first strike. Of course LCD Soundsystem was not so much a compact project as the culmination of years of work, a hefty body of dance tunes released en mass to a largely unsuspecting public. It still seems daunting even now; after three years I have never once listened to the entire thing straight through.

As a follow up to his debut, Sound Of Silver is challenging in an entirely different way; Murphy throws down the gauntlet and a concerted effort is requiring to not burn straight through repeated listens. While there are some lengthy tracks here ("Us V Them" clocks in at eight and a half minutes), they aren't nearly as brimming as previous LCD Soundsystem cuts. This time around, simplicity seems to be the key ingredient.

"Get Innocuous" is a perfect way to kick off the album, taking no time to live up to its name with its slow build and repetitive tones. Rather than offensive or abrasive, the track is a simple, albeit dark, dance number with a night-train bassline accented by churchy organ tones, all layered upon drums primed to push asses off of the couch and drag bodies along the floor. "Get Innocuous" gets the blood pumping and sets the stage for the rest of the album.

I don't even want to label it a misstep, but the one tiny quibble I have with the album is the song "Someone Great." Taken by itself, out of the context of Murphy's discography, it is a finely crafted song, but astute LCD Soundsystem fans will easily recognize the music under the lyrics as a regurgitation of sounds found in the Nike-commissioned 45:33. Now again, I realize Murphy had several irons in the fire at the same time, and simply adding lyrics over a five minute segment of a different forty-six minute song released elsewhere isn't unthinkable. Normally I wouldn't bat an eye, but considering that Murphy scaled back nearly 50 percent from the sixteen song tracklisting on LCD Soundsystem, coming up with nine completely original tunes doesn't seem like too much to ask. As it is, this one small recycled moment stands out. It's not a big complaint, just something worth noting.

Sound Of Silver's first single, "North American Scum," presents Murphy's clever and seemingly carefree singing style. Here, letting his domestic audience in on an inside joke, he relays how he feels while touring around the world. The traditional DFA-cowbell is alive and well in this number and I for one am glad it's not dead yet. Lyrically, dance music generally doesn't go out of it's way to tell a story or have any sort of interesting tale, but here, Murphy keeps things light and proves that clubgoers aren't without a sense of humor.

Murphy closes out the album on a slower note, paying homage to the city that birthed the dance-punky LCD sounds. "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down" lets Murphy's emotions off the hook as he confesses to missing the danger that used to lurk around the city's every corner. Apparently safety and the status quo do not necessarily make New York a fun place to live.

Cleaned up, stripped down, and melding dance music seamlessly with post-punk, Sound Of Silver is as solid as a dance album can get. It's got a solid foundation, a bit of humor, and more style than necessary. If you don't own this album already, you should.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig



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