James Murphy and his LCD Soundsystem are back with their third and possibly final album, This Is Happening. Having garnered massive acclaim around the traps, the LP has hit Billboard’s Dance/Electronica chart at number one knocking Gaga from her five month perch at the top with a resounding thud. What we have here are 65 minutes of electro-infused laments about spaces between people, the fickleness of the industry and personal anxieties.
The Band performed a couple of secret gigs in April at New York’s Webster Hall and the Music Hall of Willamsburg in Brooklyn, where Murphy made an impassioned plea with the crowd not to leak the album before its official release on May 17. Onstage and on his knees he stated “If you get a copy of the record early and you feel like sharing it with the rest of the world, then please don’t. We spent two years making this record and we want to put it out when we want to put it out. I don’t care about money – after it comes out, give it to whoever you want for free but until then, keep it to yourself.”
Kicking off the album is the nine minute slow burner ‘Dance Yourself Clean’, which kicks in at three minutes to become a synth driven indication of what we have in store. The following track ‘Drunk Girls’, takes a different tack and is the most light hearted on the tracklist. The video for this was done by Spike Jonze and has a nightmarish quality about it, seeing the band pushed, shoved, and basically set upon by a group of aggressive people in white dog costumes. ‘All I Want’ takes things down a notch, with Murphy’s melancholic take on relationships..”Wake with a start, and the dog and the girl are gone, so you pack up your things, and head into the lame unknown, you never had needed anyone for so long”. The track ends with him pleading “Take me home…” This mood continues into the next track ‘I Can Change’, with the blunt and brutal lines “And love is a murderer, love is a murderer, but if she calls you tonight, everything is all right, yeah, we know, and love is a curse shoved in a hearse, love is an open book to a verse of your bad poetry, and this is coming from me”. The synths dominate this track giving it a definite retro-Euro feel.
‘You Wanted A Hit’, is a standout, cynically deriding the music industries insatiable appetite for the next big thing. Murphy’s contempt is sustained over nine minutes, the length of the track itself a sabotage of the radio-friendly four minute pop song. It has some nice synth work going on for the first two minutes before the beat picks up in volume and tempo, and it drifts away as Murphy begins his cool and levelled dig, “Yeah, you wanted a hit, but tell me where’s the point in it? You wanted the hit, but that’s not what we do”. ‘Pow Pow’ is a pumping, percussion laden step in yet another direction. Murphy’s spoken word meditation on looking from the inside out, follows on from ‘You Wanted A Hit’ perfectly. Definitely glints of David Byrne on this one, it’s a statement about the media saturated dumbed down world we live in today, knowledge through television.
Recorded at Rick Ruben’s famed LA mansion, This Is Happening highlights Murphy’s skills as a savvy songwriter and skilled vocalist. His self deprecating, brash and cynical stance reflect those of his generation while still leaving room for energetic dance-floor tracks. If This Is Happening is the final outing for LCD Soundsystem they are finishing on a high note, showing they are a band with some depth who have something to say.
– Dave Roberts, June 5, 2010