LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
The cover art of LCD Soundsystem’s third (and seemingly final) album speaks volumes. It’s a striking, iconographic hybrid of David Bowie’s swaggering icon on Lodger (the final dispatch in his Eno-heavy Berlin trilogy); and Bryan Ferry’s debonair coxcomb on solo missive The Bride Stripped Bare (released in Roxy Music’s late 70s hiatus: during their transition, that is, from art-rock dandies to MOR philanderers).
It is fair to assume that neither of these visual cues is accidental. LCD Soundsystem envoy James Murphy has long scrutinised 70s subculture (post-punk, disco, glam, krautrock) and applied its vital elements to his visionary take on electronic music. From Bowie, Roxy and Talking Heads via acid-house, indie-rock, techno and hipster theory, LCD Soundsystem have dominated dance-floors, festivals and record crates for nigh-on a decade.
But Murphy is now at a turning point: calling time on his band through this final instalment in the LCD Soundsystem trilogy; caught between club-land and plaintive balladry (if his recent, folksy soundtrack for the film Greenberg is anything to go by).
This is Happening features some great tracks, of course: creeping synth wig-out ‘Dance Yrself Clean’; acid-fired new-wave chant ‘One Touch’; dance-rock serenade ‘Home’; minimal disco monologue ‘Pow Pow’ – the latter of which is a lesser variation on their 2002 magnum opus, and modus operandi, ‘Losing My Edge’. But the album is heavy with electro contempt (‘You Wanted a Hit’), Bowie/Eno pastiches (‘All I Want’), and simmering misanthropy (the fairly unbearable ‘Drunk Girls’). On balance, perhaps Murphy is wise to move on.