This is LCD Soundsystem hitting their groove.
Label: Columbia Records/DFA
Released: 1st September 2017
There are different kinds of pressure a band has to thrive under. The pressure of getting noticed, of selling out shows, of delivering a debut album worthy of attention then following it up with something that hits the same high mark. Of touring the world, of being away from home for months on end, living an unsustainable lifestyle on buses, planes, trains and beyond. But none of these compare to the pressure that LCD Soundsystem could have put themselves under with their fourth album.
Having already slipped into the night, returning - by James Murphy’s own admission - meant their comeback record would have to be exceptional to be accepted as even 'alright'. Then again, nobody said this game wasn’t fixed. This is, after all, LCD Soundsystem; a group of such quality that missteps and failures are an alien language. When Murphy and his band of sonic adventurers believe a record is so good it demands they step back into the fray, it's far more than a cynical grab to keep the reformation money train moving - it’s art.
‘American Dream’ isn’t ‘Sound Of Silver’. That should be on the table early doors. It isn’t the immediate, era defining record that burns long and bright, practically perfect in every way. That’s not to say it’s not its equal, either. If there were any doubts they might be about to destroy that legacy, they’re put firmly to bed within the first couple of tracks. By the time ‘Other Voices’ brings in the ice cold vocal cool of Nancy Whang, the deal is sealed. They’ve still got it.
With the radio-friendly singles put to one side, this is LCD Soundsystem hitting their groove. There’s a darkness to ‘American Dream’ - understandable from the title alone - but also a certain light. The energy of a force reborn, it’s the opposite of what so many others have chosen to bring to the battlefield in 2017. There’s no gimmick, no forced theme or awkward posturing. It’s a record that shimmers under its own precious gleam, with the odd hint of something more around every corner.
The influence of Bowie, understandably, appears often. Working with the legendary musician before its creation, it’s not a new element to LCD’s sonic spread, but one that feels more pertinent than ever before. The soaring interstellar rise of ‘Call The Police’, the lyrical regret of ‘Black Screen’ - they only add to the impression that this is a band that exists beyond the moment. A true legacy act, we’re lucky to experience their magic first hand.
Because it is magic. There’s no denying that. The sassy hip shake of ‘Emotional Haircut’, the goosebump echo of ‘Oh Baby’, the pulsing dark heart of ‘Tonite’ - they’re all moments that no other band could recreate. In returning from their early demise, LCD Soundsystem haven’t feathered their own nest so much as embellished their already lustred legend. The fact they went away wasn’t a failure; it was another step in the story of a group that sit a level above their peers. LCD Soundsystem fell. LCD Soundsystem rise again. Pressure means nothing to them. Stephen Ackroyd