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LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

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Artist: LCD Soundsystem

Album: LCD Soundsystem

Label: DFA

Review date: Mar. 29, 2005

LCD Soundsystem blew up in 2002 at clubs across the globe with their epochal DFA debut 12" "Losing my Edge." Several singles followed, heightening anticipation for the long rumored debut album. Now that it's here, three years later, was the anticipation necessary? LCD Soundsystem consists of two CDs: alongside the album, a second disc repackages the famous but relatively hard-to-find 12"s (both A- and B-sides). The second disc is the stronger of the two, but that's not a condemnation. Rather, it's testament to the original DFA 12"s. Any evaluation of LCD Soundsystem as an album, however, rests on the new material. While many of the new songs have interesting ideas, too many of them are like the typical Saturday Night Live skit, overlong and wearing out their one genius idea through noxious repetition. Even the driving first track "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" could be a minute shorter and nobody but late night denizens would notice the difference.

James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy deserve credit for their production talents, running the gamut from typical techno trance to Beatlesque balladry to punk- inflected garage guitar. But ending and/or transitioning between songs with the "live in-studio" echo and/or pop of instrument plugs being pulled is beyond cliché status. LCD Soundsystem are pastiche meisters of the first order, as the plethora of namechecking in so many reviews reveals, but this kind of laziness is a completely different problem. And though one could argue that Murphy has created modern dance music's White Album or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, a stunning collection copying various musical styles from pop's back catalogue (here the most obvious references would be The Fall, New Order, Brian Eno, P.I.L., Big Star, The Cars, and James Chance and the Contortions), do we really want or need an anthology of songs transmogrified with a drum machine and mixing board into lengthy club rave ups?

As clever and knowing as this record is, it indicts the indie-rock-criticism-as- movie-pitch school which dominates discourse: "it's like a cross between Autechre's synths and Diamanda Galas' vocals with a soupcon of Neu! for good measure". That's the irony of the original joke in "Losing My Edge"; there's always someone somewhere who has more obscure taste. But does unleashing such knowledge in a studio produce a great record? Here the whole sum is less than its individual parts: individual tracks display real quality, but the album fails to cohere.

Despite high points like the insistent guitars of "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" and the eardrum buzz of "Thrills", this record comes down to that old American Bandstand platitude: "It's got a beat and you can dance to it." All the geeky hipster allusive lyrics in the world can't change it. Check back in a few years when LCD Soundsystem has enough singles to make disc two of their version of Substance

By G.E. Light

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