Tuesday, March 22, 2005

MUSIC: LCD Soundsystem

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I'm a white guy, so I can't dance. I'm not a huge dance music/electronic fan - my knowledge of the genre pretty much stops with Moby - but great reviews made me decide to pick up LCD Soundsystem's self-titled debut CD on a whim. And I'm enjoying the heck out of this beat-packed, propulsive "dance-punk" album so far. The two-CD set compiles the album proper on the first disc, with the second disc featuring seven previously vinyl-only singles. LCD is basically James Murphy, an East Coast hipster who splices together influences from '70s ängst-pop like Can and Kraftwerk, '80s Talking Heads and a dash of punk-rock sound into appealingly bouncy, droll electronic jams. It's great fun stuff, riding in on that enjoyably retro dance-rock wave including bands such as Franz Ferdinand and The Killers.

The dry humor of Murphy's work really helps dispel that "too cool for school" aura that puts me off most club-type music. His monotone David Byrne-esque chant/singing is mannered and catchy. The leadoff track, "Daft Punk is Playing at my House," is all tongue-in-cheek bravado, with a pounding rhythm and yes, a cowbell solo! On disc 2, Murphy goes for all-out comedy in the great "Losing My Edge," all about a self-proclaimed hipster's loss of relevance ("I've never been wrong. I used to work in the record store"). Other songs like "Yeah" (featured in two versions), "Movement" and "Disco Infiltrator" continue to play with Murphy's outsider-looking-inside viewpoint, where stark beats expand into machinated walls of sound. A few of the tracks venture into different territory, notably the White Album Beatles homage of "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up." LCD Soundsystem ain't deep, but if you're inclined it'll get you dancing. And if you're a sad old white guy like me, you'll bob your head and look quite absurd as you drive along listening to it in your Subaru.

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