LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream”, as reviewed by Rishi Deva
We live in an age where people’s attention is the most valued currency. Amidst the constant noise of sound bites, video memes and text bites it’s not easy for any band to hold attention for long. So how does a band that has been off the radar for over four years manage to do it? For James Murphy, and his band LCD Soundsystem, it seems effortless.
After a vocal retirement four years ago, LCD Soundsystem is back with a new album, an arena tour and plenty of buzz. When asked how they feel to be back with a new album and tour, James Murphy responds: “Happy!”
LCD Soundsystem lived the American Dream. They went from obscurity to club circuit darlings to festival headliners and, at their pinnacle, to arena shows. The higher a band climbs up the ladder, the harder it becomes to stay in touch with everyday life. Suddenly the distance between the audience and the fan becomes influenced by teams of marketers and managers making decisions. At a certain point the artist is on a conveyor belt of studio, touring, and media, being guided every step right up to the side of the stage where the band then performs. The pressure to continue to create successful music becomes paramount to survival, and everyone on payroll around the band is dependent upon the band to continue to succeed. For many artists, it is not what they thought they signed up for. It’s a soul-sucker. The dream becomes as nourishing as a Twinkie.
In 2011 Murphy and the band played one farewell concert. It was a three-hour, sold-out show at Madison Square Garden called The Long Goodbye.
2017 is a long way from where James Murphy started. He was a self-admitted vulnerable geek when he submitted his first 12” single Losing My Edge to the label. The song was like someone’s naked, raw diary entry of feeling too old to be relevant, accompanied by a loud, fast-moving and somewhat aggressive style of punk music with some vintage synth sounds. The label hated it and did not want to release it. But when it got released, critics became fans.
LCD Soundsystem are as New York as Woody Allen and Lou Reed, with a bit of The New York Dolls, The Ramones, Blondie and Grandmaster Flash thrown in. Bands like LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture were blurring the lines of punk and dance music, showing the world that New York was loud, contemplative and celebratory. The results were foot-blistering, high-energy, fun shows. For almost two decades LCD Soundsystem dominated this space and went from fad to mainstream popularity and were just at the height of their popularity when they quit.
Without the pressures of needing to produce content, Murphy says, “I literally was just making songs up, having fun and being happy coming up with ideas and not thinking about them in terms of, ‘Oh shit, I have to make an album.’” From this space has emerged the new album American Dream. It’s familiar enough to provide comfort, while unique enough to captivate and hold the listener
LCD make a statement with American Dream, served in a dance and punk blend rich with vintage synths, arpeggiators and high-energy beats. Songs like “Call The Police”, “American Dream” and “Emotional Haircut” comment on the state of the failing nation, its homogenous and mostly irrelevant radio waves, and the zombie-like attitudes of people faced with some very serious issues. American Dream is just what the music industry could use right now.
Rishi Deva is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.