Album Review: LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

It’s been 6 years since LCD Soundsystem split up. It’s been difficult but finally, after their reformation last year, they have gifted us with a new LP. James Murphy, the brainchild behind the band has had a busy few years since breaking up the group that made his name. He’s opened a wine bar, remixed the US Open, and most notably produced on David Bowie’s final album ‘Blackstar’.

‘American Dream’ isn’t the first new music from LCD since their breakup, they had a go at a Christmas single with 2015’s ‘Christmas Will Break Your Heart’ - if you often find yourself being too happy over the holidays I advise spinning this song at yule time, it should help bring the mood down – but it is the first since their reunion.

The production, as ever with LCD, is impeccable. You can hear the countless hours Murphy has put into making everything sound just right. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of erratic synths, pregnant bass, and screeching guitar the band create on tracks like ‘other voices’. Oh yeah, and there’s plenty of cowbell.

Of course, this being an LCD album, the lyrics are brilliant. It’s the usual drill of Murphy rambling over the band in his half sung half spoken style. He delivers heartbreak and humour with equal ease. ‘tonite’ is the lyrical highpoint of the album, embedded between the acidy squelch of a Roland tr-33 and an endlessly looping drum beat Murphy offers wry, pessimistic observations on pop, radio and personality in the modern age. One stand out set of lines goes as follows:

Embarrassing pictures have now all been deleted / By versions of selves that we thought were the best ones / ‘Till versions of versions of others repeating / Come laughing at everything we thought was important'

They capture the constant millennial reinvention of self on social media to a tee; pretty impressive for a 47 year old. Murphy also addresses his decision to reform the band on ‘change yr mind’. The song would be at home on a Roxy Music or Bowie album, it’s Avant Garde stylings providing a funky and otherworldly backdrop to Murphy’s confessional and self conscious words.

The 9 minute ‘how do you sleep?’, could be labelled as LCD’s take on a diss track. It’s an angry put down of DFA records co-founder Tim Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy was accused by Murphy of abusing his company credit card amongst other offences, the song chronicles their deteriorating relationship which eventually ended in a lawsuit in 2013. A slow, anxious building of tension is sustained for more than half the song before it breaks down into a post punk, synth lead groove that leaves you unsure as to whether you should dance, or lie on the floor in a darkened room contemplating life and all its complications.

The rest of the album is just as enjoyable. ‘call the police’ is a nod to the band’s punk influences whilst title track ‘american dream’ is a synthy, shivering lament. Yes, there is no great departure from the band’s previous musical stylings, but ‘American Dream’ is still an excellent album. It is yet another jewel in the discography of a band who will undoubtedly stand the test of time, a band that continues to make you think whilst you dance.

Daniel Brashaw