- James Murphy was there, cueing up the first few records of the post-punk revival. He was there behind the desk producing the Gang of Four and Fall-obsessed bands which would come to define the movement. He was there on the other side of the window, too - "the fat guy in the T-shirt doing all the singing" on LCD Soundsystem's acclaimed full-length debut in 2005. But as post-punk dance matures into adulthood, has Murphy lost his edge? Well, no. Even with bands, now more than ever, trying to dance-up their music by taking LCD as the template, and even though the 'Sound of Silver' is blatantly reaching for a broader audience, the music on this record exemplifies why James Murphy's group attained frontrunner status to begin with.
Murphy hasn’t made many changes to the group’s sound on the album, instead he’s narrowing its focus to variations of dance-punk (bummer for those of you hoping for another Pink Floyd homage), fulfilling his house/techno jones while tipping his hat to the heads by reprising the drum programming which dotted previous LCD releases. Case in point is the effervescent album opener ‘Get Innocuous’: a ruddy bass arpeggio, blurry piano hits and hissing programming which intersect with live drumming and Murphy’s histrionic vocal layers. ‘Someone Great’ has a similar effect; its deliberate, bleeping melody and whirring synth put life into an otherwise mournful tune (hence the relaxed tempo). The halfway clever tune ‘Sound of Silver’ also delves into electronics, but it has a rather flat trajectory, rendering it inoffensive and memorable mostly for its lyrics.
The majority of the album, however, is more squarely in dance rock territory. While ‘Time to Get Away’ is all clavichords, walking basslines and Murphy’s best Prince impression, ‘Us vs Them’ retreads the road paved by 2004’s ‘Yeah’, crowded with shitloads of hand percussion, spring-loaded guitar licks and gang vocals galore. “Sound of…’s most rocking moments, ‘North American Scum” and ‘Watch the Tapes’, are just as propulsive, kept in line with hi-hat-battering drumwork. Only on the back-handed ballad ‘New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down’ does he take a breather.
Murphy’s decision to actually write lyrics rather than adlibbing in the booth makes ‘Sound of Silver’ a stronger album than previous efforts. ‘North American Scum’ is both the record’s lead single and most poignant lyrically, noting the adverse reaction some have had to the band’s being American. He takes on the death of icons in ‘Someone Great’, the undeserved nostalgia for teenagehood in ‘Sound of Silver’, the media in ‘Watch the Tapes’ and everyone else in ‘Time to Get Away’ and ‘Us vs Them’. Those last two tracks also happen to be the album’s weakest points, brandishing righteous vitriol atop overly-familiar instrumentals which add nothing to the band’s catalog.
‘Sound of Silver’ is by no means a near perfect album as many critics have crowned it, but it’s a damn good fusion of rock and dance music which will likely increase LCD Soundsystem’s following both on the dancefloor and off.
1 Get Innocuous
2 Time to Get Away
3 North American Scum
4 Someone Great
5 All My Friends
6 Us v. Them
7 Watch the Tapes
8 Sound of Silver
9 New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down