by / May 11th, 2010 /

LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

 3/5 Rating

(DFA / Parlophone)

This isn’t going to be a proper scientific explanation, and it’s allegedly a hot topic amongst egghead boffin-types, but every seven years or so the body kind of replicates itself. What we end up with is a kind of photocopy of ourselves – everything, more or less, is new but the quality is slightly reduced. You can see where this is going.

LCD Soundsystem seem to have an almost unique reputation within the contemporary music world, a position where it is almost blasphemous to criticise them. Coming off the back of Sound of Silver, a brilliantly engaging, witty, danceable, touching record, this is almost understandable. Making another record as clever and life-affirming as that is pretty much an impossible task but This Is Happening seriously lacks the soul which previously raised LCD Soundsystem from being just another dance music act.

Returning to the original metaphor of the photocopied cells, -Drunk Girls’ passes itself off as a weaker version of -North American Scum’ with a bit of David Bowie’s -Boys Keep Swinging’ thrown in. It’s not the only instance of Bowie-borrowing during the record – see also, the -Heroes’ guitars on -All I Want’ and -Somebody’s Calling Me’s heavily carbon-copied use of David and Iggy’s -Nightclubbing’. -Somebody’s Calling Me’, incidentally, is the weakest moment here – a song which does very little for no apparent reason for almost seven minutes.

Although there are some strong moments, most notably -You Wanted A Hit’, This Is Happening never shakes the feeling that it’s going through the motions – flogging the well-worn disco-motorik grooves of yore. It also seems that the makers are well aware of this (‘I don’t see how we could be pleased with this/We’ve been waiting for a long time’ – -One Touch’). Yes, these lyrics are delivered with a smirk but it’s a knowing wink to the fact that there’s nothing new within these nine songs. It explains Mr. Murphy’s decision that this is the final album in the LCD Soundsystem catalogue. Because going by the contents of This Is Happening, it is clear he is struggling for new ideas.

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  • Karl

    Another review to add to the growing few perpetuating a clear LCD backlash (see Sunday Times, Mojo, and no doubt others).Yes James Murphy’s a smart-arse, musical snob; a bit old and a bit cynical. Yes he throws out a hipper-than-thou air that obviously irks those ready for a bit of hipster bashing. The knives very much seemed to be out for Mr Murphy this time around and for me this is unfair and oh so predictable.

    I think time will show that is is a very good record, almost up there with Sound of Silver. Not sure what critics were expecting Murphy to do! It’s clear from the Greenberg soundtrack that making a different kind of music is something he wants to do under his own name . LCD make thoughtful dance music – were critics expecting a Kid A here? (Another album salivated over now which was routinely panned – particularly this side of the water back in 2000).

    Drunk Girls is better than North American Scum, in both lyrical terms and simply because its a better pop song; Somebody’s calling me, while a bit long, is a nice change of pace and I have to say I don’t mind it at all; You Wanted a Hit, the song applauded here, is perhaps lyrically the weakest on the album! All I Want, I Can Change, and Dance Yrself Clean (an amazing epic weirdly ignored by most reviews) would easily jostle for space on a 12 track LCD best of.

    The only criticism I have of these guys right now is that they haven’t tried to reschedule a Dublin date at some time this year and I’d have to hell our a few hundred to see them at Electric Picnic. Sort it out James!