#433: Sound of Silver, LCD Soundsystem
I’m so excited to get to LCD “Liquid Christmas Display” Soundsystem, the coolest band to ever come out of NYC. And yes, I’m including the Ramones, the Velvet Underground, and the Wu-Tang Clan. I loved LCD Soundsystem at a stupidly young age. Imagine a ten-year-old listening to “Losing My Edge,” James Murphy frantically declaring that he was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band! “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” made a bit more sense to me, because who doesn’t understand a song that starts with Ow! Ow! That all predated Sound of Silver by two or three years, meaning I might be the most legit LCD Soundsystem fan of all.
This record is a monument to Murphy’s insanity. He apparently covered his entire studio in silver fabric and tin foil to make this record. In doing so, he sealed in the vibe of the 2000s: he sounds like he’s got the same vocal effect as Julian Casablancas on Is This It. Plus it was made available for free on MySpace of all places for a few weeks before its official release. Does it get more 2000s than that?
I think even at a young age, I understood that James Murphy was writing some of the smartest, snarkiest lyrics in the business. For instance: he writes about places he’s lived with the bitterness of only someone who’s loved them. “North American Scum” is the most fun, wearing the bad reputation of the USA like a badge of honor. You wouldn’t touch us with a ten-foot pole, he says. The masterpiece, though, is “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.” It’s maybe the best NYC love song out there, bitter and strangled and tinkling with pianos. Plus, there’s a great Billy Joel reference at the end that always makes me smile.
And this definitely sounds like an NYC album. Murphy mixes banging dance tracks with high stress and anxiety, in a way that makes you not jealous of people living in NYC. “Get Innocuous!” is a bleepy stuttering dance track about getting beaten down by the rat race, and “Watch the Tapes” traces an addiction to clubbing to its inevitable downfall. Also see “Time to Get Away” and the increasingly discordant “Us V Them.”
Much of this record is about nostalgia, having a great time with your friends, missing the good times before they’re even over. See “All My Friends,” an epic celebration of restless partying even as you get too old for it. Then, on the other hand, see “Sound of Silver,” the album’s punchline reminding you that nostalgia is nothing more than a drug. Music, he says, makes you want to feel like a teenager/ Until you remember the feelings of/ A real-life emotional teenager.
LCD Soundsystem broke up in 2011, then reunited in 2016. They put out some awesome stuff, too: American Dream rocked, and I loved their Chic cover. Plus, did you know they once put out an album titled 45:33, which was exactly that many minutes long, for NIKE? LCD Soundsystem is the coolest NYC band, and that’s it.
Most Surprising Song: “Someone Great,” a song about the death of his therapist, is an electronic confection with some genuinely beautiful lines. The way he sings When someone great is gone says it all.
Fun Fact: RS’s website orients the album cover sideways!