There are controversial band reunions and then there’s the return of LCD Soundsystem, who made a great fuss about a 2011 farewell concert, at
Madison Square Garden, only to
announce they were back in business five years later.
Their ‘comeback’ album will further divide opinion over whether leader, James Murphy, was correct to reassemble the gang. The group have
always been honest about their
influences, their previous records a kinetic blend of disco, krautrock, and indie-pop.
However, on American Dream the hero worship comes on especially strong. Murphy sounds more like David Bowie circa ‘Jump They Say’ than ever before and the indebtedness to the diffuse, textured LPs that
Talking Heads made with Brian Eno in the late 1970s is unabashed.
The secret weapon remains the singer, a big-hearted teddy bear who puts his feelings out on a platter on chugging opener, ‘Oh Baby’, and then shares them all over again on ‘How Do You Sleep?’ and ‘Tonite’. He’s one of the frontman of the age — the
bittersweet tang of his Gen X self-questioning setting him apart from the ranks of moping Millennial songwriters.
It’s a good thing he’s feeling so
expansive as, musically, American Dream is often tired and repetitive (meanwhile, the allegedly bland and unimaginative cover art work has already divided opinion). ‘Other Voices’ regurgitates early hit, ‘Losing My Edge’; ‘Call The Police’ and ‘Emotional Haircut’ compensate for a lack of killer grooves with torrents of guitar.
Seven years after the astonishing This Is Happening, LCD Soundsystem might have been expected to spring back into action, eager to take on the world. But this is a trudging,
phlegmatic second coming, not at all the glorious return for which fans will have hoped.
It’s a lesson to us all — but especially Murphy — to be careful what we wish for.
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