James Murphy is a living retrospective
It clearly shows in his work in the band LCD Soundsystem and his own taste in music. Murphy took his dive into the music industry at a much older age than most of the contemporary stars, starting Soundsystem in 2001 abruptly hitting his 30s. Why am I anchoring on the whole age thing? Because most contemporary “rockstars” don’t start so old and have the gruffy washed up physique that Murphy relents. Our general music stars that dominate radio tend to be in the mid twenties and the ones considered “old timers” are in their thirties.
Regardless of this “Sleazy” vibe that Murphy gives off at times, Murphy has made some of the most advantageous and culturally relevant music in the last 20 years. His initial stride with Soundsystem caused a cultish following that eventually imploded upon itself in the breakup of the band. Less than a decade later though, the band announced its reformation and the release of the aforementioned album “American Dream”. This also has lead to a bit of media criticism following the said reformation theorizing that the band only broke up for “ticket sales”
The sound of American takes the dance-ability of 80s Pop hits and New Wave that Murphy loves to homage and throws it into yet another creative and ambitious mish mosh of rock and dance music that sounds like if Daft Punk had decided to collaborate with the Talking Heads but with a much more bleak somewhat The Cure-esque tinge of Depressive, Introspective lyricism.
A perfect example of this on the track that “i used to” where Murphy chants “I used to dance alone of my own volition, I used to wait all night for the rock transmissions.” The song perfectly encapsulate the longing that Murphy lives with for his youth and tunes of the old, along with the promises of his generation that may have not come to life like promised, which harkens to the “American Dream” title
The album creates a danceable mood that can put you in a strange feeling of missing something at the same time which Murphy has shown proficiency at. However I do have some gripes with some of the musical arrangement and song length on the record due to how long the songs can be. It’s more forgivable with music that people tend to go to live shows to dance for, but the album clocks in about over an hour which may not be easy for people to dedicate their time to, especially with the last track being 12 whole minutes long and it can be discerning to listen to Murphy shout into an instrumental echo chamber for as long as he does. But, as a cohesive whole the record is an amazingly moody atmospheric blend of the sound of late era 70s radio hits and the post punk era that spawned many of Murphy’s production techniques and lyrics
American Dream was released September 1st, through DFA and Columbia records. You can stream American Dream and LCD Soundsystem’s other work on Spotify and Apple Music.