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Nation & World

LCD Soundsystem Lives Its Darkly Philosophical, Archly Self-Aware 'American Dream'

James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. The band's new album, <em>American Dream</em>, is its first after a six-year hiatus.
James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. The band's new album, <em>American Dream</em>, is its first after a six-year hiatus.

Even by the standard of today's news cycle, LCD Soundsystem's whiplash turnaround time from retirement to reunion seemed suspicious. In 2011, the electronic rock band staged an elaborate, sold-out goodbye concert at New York's Madison Square Garden. I danced at that farewell show; I even cried a bit. And that closure feels somewhat cheapened a bit by american dream, this new comeback album that has arrived a mere six years later.

However, the fact that the band still sounds absolutely in its prime makes me feel better. Everything that has defined LCD Soundsystem is here, including the arch, darkly philosophical lyrics and the sound, which taps into a sweet spot of art rock, new wave and synth-pop from the '70s and '80s. It's not derivative, but the echoes of Brian Eno and David Bowie are unmistakable.

LCD Soundsystem emerged around 15 years ago in the midst of New York City's rock resurgence. The band stood apart because it helped listeners realize that electronic dance music and rock weren't enemies; in fact, they could actually sound fantastic together.

LCD's great theme has always been growing older in youth-fixated music culture. Bandleader James Murphy is 46 years old, and he's still a man out of time, rebuilding classic styles like an old-world artisan. On the single "tonite," he complains about modern pop music, fully aware he sounds like his mother.

But this music is fiercely intergenerational – rooted in modern electronic music, but looking back to punk rock and even doo-wop. The members of LCD Soundsystem have decided not to retire, and good for them. None of us ever get younger, and no one should ever age out of the need to dance.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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