LCD’s disco infiltration

May 2, 2007 at 12:00 am
James Murphy is the rare musician who improves with age, who gets greater as his grumpiness grows. The dude who spoofed himself in LCD Soundsystem’s quasi-anti-hipster 2002 anthem "Losing My Edge" turns out to be the sum of the amazing glut of influences wryly detailed in that underground club staple. He is Woody Allen’s Zelig character with a million-dollar gift certificate to Other Music. Moreover, Murphy is simultaneously Zeitgeist-definer, record geek, studio savant and party-starting catalyst. Rarely do all four archetypes converge in one body. But if there’s one act that exemplifies the best hybrid of rock and dance music (with endlessly quotable lyrics, to boot), it’s LCD Soundsystem.

This savvy middle-aged disco infiltrator has heard so much great music, he can’t help but ooze gobs of it from his pores. LCD’s new album, Sound of Silver, proves this in hearty spades with a hot handful of club diamonds in the rough. The disc improves upon the self-titled debut because Murphy realized something important: He really excels at mesmerizing dance jams with sing-along choruses (how rare) rather than classic-rock balladeering — even if he does nick mannerisms from immortals like Eno, McCartney and Barrett. On Silver, Murphy succumbs only once to the latter impulse (wisely placed at disc’s end) with the Lou Reed/Big Apple homage "New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down." Sweeping melodrama isn’t Murphy’s forte.

Fortunately, he mostly homes in on percussion-heavy trance-outs (Murphy heeded the widespread cry for "more cowbell"), silvery synth chiaroscuro, and the sort of agitated postpunk uptightness that gets the smart kids loose. But for all of the rambunctious charms of tracks like "North American Scum" (a relentless organ/bass/cowbell cascade that will make you fall in love with the Fall all over again) and "Us V Them" ("Yeah" redux, but who’s complaining?), it’s with "All My Friends" and "Someone Great" where LCD truly peaks.

It’s hard to imagine anyone else but Murphy and co. successfully placing Charlemagne Palestine’s refulgent piano pounding over an ever-accelerating motorik rhythm, then casting wistful vocals and flute-y Mercury Rev-like guitars over the intensifying chaos. But even this epic is surpassed in the affecting songcraft department by "Someone Great." Its northern European coldness is tempered by Murphy’s most touching vocal melody yet and buttressed by a delicate glockenspiel motif. The song’s a miracle of angles and curves, and it epitomizes the paradoxical traits that make Murphy this decade’s most accomplished synthesizer of avant-garde and pop impulses.

Contrary to the lyrics to "Beat Connection," this show will not be "the saddest night out in the USA." It’s more likely to inspire outbreaks of — to quote another cogent Murphy composition—"Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah."


Monday, May 6, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; doors at 7 p.m.; $16; all ages.

Dave Segal is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]