The first person I thought of after learning of David Bowie's passing was James Murphy. Therapeutically, Bowie was to Murphy as Jeff Tweedy, Thom Yorke, Isaac Brock, fuck it, even Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown, and of course James Murphy are to me. In what my personal favorite song of the 00's was, Murphy's touching tribute to his life changing therapist, I had a prudent thought that LCD Soundsystem's american dream would be confronting. Musically confronting, lyrically defiant, and insanely demanding.
Technically, american dream is the band's most adventurous work yet. When you hear the album open with a rhythmic theme thriving on the upper register of the piano (yeah, the part that sounds broken), brace for impact. The album is packed with the type of blatant dissonance from "Somebody's Calling Me". You can find these qualities in the roaring guitars and synths on "other voices" and "change yr mind". The emotional reward on "black screen" is backed with an intentionally and melodically wandering synth. That same dissonance parallels the album's weirdly criticized cover art. A metaphorical heaven blocked by blacked, bolded characters that make up the album title and the band that is returning with their latest LP since 2010. A Newsweek article slamming the album's artwork with an analysis and selection capricious tweets for support had Murphy admitting the author was right. "[Claire Shaffer] Dislikes the cover a lot, but is totally right about what's going, it's a combination of sunshine and oppression". In other words, you can still dance to this music, but you might contemplate some heavy material as a sacrifice.
It's a really stupid idea to attempt to encapsulate what happens in an LCD Soundsystem record in several paragraphs just after a dozen listens. Musical notions, from referenced allusions to lyrical idiosyncrasies that stretch across the rest of the LCD discography are present. Murphy's "Home", a song and repeated idea that calls upon the bass line from band creator "Losing My Edge", references the chorale of the band fronting "Dance Yrself Clean", and cites the Talking Heads, looms over this album like a lucid dream.
american dream is indubitably fueled by depth. Both melodically and atmospherically, this album habitats some of the band's least palatable work. However, where this album cashes in is in its conceptual horsepower. I will spend the next several years of my life analyzing this monster. The action of "waking up", perhaps from a dream, is featured on almost every track. Bowie's advice for an LCD Soundsystem reunion is quoted on "other voices". Murphy convinces fans uncompromising of the band's reunion to change their minds or even pretends to be Bowie giving Murphy advice on "change yr mind". He calls out his shitty and former DFA Records label partner on "how do you sleep". And, for Pete's sake, Nancy Whang (in what might be her first ever LCD Soundsystem vocal solo) opens her verse with "This is what's happening and it's freaking you out", a nod to their previous album and the closing track of their sophomore album. In every musical moment on this record I discover or at least rethink something new about this album's purpose. Bowie's Blackstar is akin to Murphy's "black screen", and "but now more will go with age, you know" on the title track preps us for more horrid deaths of our favorite musicians. After James Murphy and the rest of LCD Soundsystem dump an unfathomable musical project, hand packed with lyrical guile, I'm speechless.
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