LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

LCD Soundsystem return as strong as ever, with their darkest sounding record to date

Album Review by Tallah Brash | 28 Aug 2017
Album title: American Dream
Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Label: DFA / Columbia
Release date: 1 Sep

Since the very loud ending of LCD Soundsystem in 2011, James Murphy has kept busy. He's worked with David Bowie and Arcade Fire, scored the music for Noah Baumbach's While We’re Young, and designed the Despacio Soundsystem with 2manydjs. Also, he created his own coffee and opened a wine bar.

Comeback single Christmas Will Break Your Heart was the biggest surprise of 2015 and now in 2017 there's a new LCD album. “It’s the best I’ve felt about an LCD LP ever,” confessed Murphy in a recent Facebook update, quickly followed by, “which could totally spell disaster.” Not to worry, for American Dream is made up of the same ingredients as previous LCD Soundsystem records, flowing beautifully from the opening tick of Oh Baby, to the lingering piano on closer Black Screen.

Oh Baby's ticking greets us, before the kick drum sets a steady pace and gentle arpeggios drift over the beat before a warming crash sets the road for gravelly synths. Murphy sings ‘Oh baby / Oh Baby / You’re having a bad dream / Here in my arms’ and its instantly comforting, like a long emotional embrace with an old friend you haven’t seen in years.

Nine-minute-long How Do You Sleep? is a masterclass in composition and probably the record’s darkest moment – the opening three-and-a-half-minutes are filled with doom-laden drums, swirling bleeps and haunting strings. ‘Standing on the shore facing east / I can’t hear you / I can’t hear you anymore’, Murphy strains through the mist before bulbous synths appear. It’s relatable; about hypocrisy and wanting something better for someone, for everyone. ‘You warned me off the cocaine, and dove straight in… / There’s more for you, there’s more for you, there’s more for you’ he pangs, before ‘One step forward... / And six steps back’ – it feels painfully personal, at the same time relevant on a grander scale given current events in America.

Elsewhere on the album, Other Voices is jubilant; a dancefloor banger full of glorious bleeps and squelchy synths, with bells, wood blocks and an exquisitely delivered Nancy Whang vocal. Change Yr Mind is threaded with guitar freak-outs; Tonite is a straight up pop hit; Emotional Haircut is thunderous and full of energy; Black Screen is filmic, bittersweet and beautiful.

American Dream feels like Murphy's darkest record to date, and like previous LCD records, only gets better with repeat listens. In short, it's fucking glorious.

Listen to: How Do You Sleep?, Tonite, Oh Baby, Other Voices