When The Glitter Comes Up With Gold
It is time to proclaim LCD Soundsystem's debut album as a true classic
Disco ball is still considered as a symbol of the music that gave this glittering object prominence. In most cases, music critics and the so-called discerning audience don’t hold disco music in high esteem.
Yet, what happens when an artist, who deserves to be called as such in his/her’s true right comes up with music that has a connection with disco, but takes a few leaps in quite a number of directions?
Well, then, you can just simply call it a true classic. Just like LCD’ Soundsystem’s debut album.
James Murphy, the man behind LCD Soundsystem is one of the most qualified musical librarians. Ever. But then, that’s not all. He was, and luckily, still is a man on a mission - he’s out to confirm that you can create music that makes you dance and think at the same time. Might be hard for some, but Murphy, as some before him did, proves that it is doable.
His band’s debut album is complete proof of it. Along with the fact that, if you want to be a true music librarian (keeping all those books, or databases, whichever), when you openly reference your sources, the music that you come up with has to be truly exceptional. And Murphy’s is.
Murphy lays out his plans for all to hear here. As if that disco ball with missing glittering inlays isn’t a clear sign enough. The second disc of this album is a collection of his opening salvo of singles, both A and B sides, that show what he is up to - combine all those intelligent musical concepts to keep you dancing (and thinking at the same time - Nile Rogers (and his Chic project), Can, Brian Eno and David Byrne, The Fall, New Order, Kraftwerk, you name it. As a true music librarian you are bound to throw in a few of the melody ‘classics’ for good measure, like The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
"I was there at the first Can show in Cologne...” states Murphy among other things in a deadpan David Byrne in his “Once In A Lifetime” mode on “Losing My Edge”, the single he started out with, which opens disc two here. Now, it makes no difference whether he was or not. He makes you believe him, along with all the other reference he cites. So his mission is set.
The album proper starts out with “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, one of the best-opening dance tracks of the new century, and the title says it all, Murphy calling out one of the better dance bands around. “Too Much Love” again takes us to Talking Heads and Remain In Light, while musically “Tribulations” asks the question - if Giorgio Moroder and New Order made it with this synth/guitar fills, so can I. On the other hand, lyrically it just shows Murphy’s ability to add an additional layer of substance throughout the album:
“Everybody Makes Mistakes
But I feel alright when I come undone
You are not making me wait
But it seems right as long as something’s happening”
“Movement” is Mark E. Smith including Murphy’s complete take on the legend’s singing voice, and The Fall at their most danceable, no matter how quirky that dance might be. And then, as any good dance floor DJ, Murphy throws in “Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up”, as one of those cold shower songs to cool the dancing crowd. And it is a complete Beatles tribute from the title that refers to “I’m Only Sleeping”, to Lennon/McCartney chord changes and George Harrison guitar riffs. The moment “On Repeat” starts, you expect Marc Almond to start singing on any of those Soft Cell hits, but its actually Mark E. Smith impersonating John Lydon, and “Thrills” brings back Afrika Bambaataa memories.
This couldn’t be an electronic/dance record if it didn’t include a Kraftwerk reference, and “Disco Infiltrator” does that job to perfection, with The Talking Heads going in, yet again at some point. “Great Release” that closes the ‘regular’ part of the album is yet another of those Murphy curveballs - what starts out as a reference to Brian Eno’s early solo albums, turns into The Beach Boys joining those sessions, with everybody on their way to heaven.
The rest of the singles on disc two are in a way also a showcase what a brilliant producer Murphy is, yet another thing you need to be if you want to hit the title of one of the ultimate music librarians. He accentuates any rhythmic/beat instrument that was at his hand at the moment and makes them sound, not as great fillers, but as an essential part of the music.
So with all those musical quotes, why can’t LCD Soundsystem be dubbed as one of the greatest copycat albums of all times? The answer is quite simple - because it sounds like a great, seamless musical concept and after all, modern music is basically built on references and quotes. It is just that they have to sound great together. And on LCD Soundsystem they do!