LCD Soundsystem – “American Dream”

Written By Mick Stinelli, A&E Editor

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It is impossible to review the new LCD Soundsystem album without bringing up the band’s breakup in 2011. The band split for over four years, released a film of their grandiose final concert (“Shut Up and Play the Hits”) and a live album of said concert (“The Long Goodbye”) before reuniting in 2015. After a comeback tour in 2016, James Murphy and co. are back with their fourth full-length LP, “American Dream.”

The album opening track is “oh baby,” with the band in full ballad mode. LCD’s trademark analogue synthesizers make their return in all their full glory before the tempo picks up on “other voices.” This is the first time the band has sounded so irresistibly danceable since their comeback. The track’s groove builds slowly before Murphy calls on Nancy Whang (“Tell ‘em, Nancy!”) for a spoken word breakdown not unlike the one on “Get Innocuous!” from 2007’s “Sound of Silver.”

“change yr mind” has an unmistakable Talking Heads influence, screeching guitars, and some wonderful harmonies by Murphy. It’s followed by the album’s titanic centerpiece, “how do you sleep?” At nine minutes and 12 seconds, “how do you sleep?” follows the “Dance Yrself Clean” formula; the first third of the track is sparse before a monolithic synth begins pounding. The main drum beat follows shortly thereafter. Though it is a familiar trick that LCD Soundsystem has used in the past, it is still an exhilarating experience listening to the track build as Murphy delivers his dancefloor sermon.

The next three tracks (“tonite,” “call the police,” and “american dream”) were all singles released before the album. Despite the latter two having been out since May, they still retain fantastic replay value. The restless energy of “call the police” is perfectly complimented by the balladry of “american dream.” “tonite,” a more recent single, features some of Murphy’s trademark cynicism (“Oh sure it’s ruling the airwaves / What remains of the airwaves,”) and was paired with a delightful music video.

Both of LCD Soundsystem’s last records featured jaw-dropping final tracks. “Sound of Silver” closed with the earnest “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” and “This Is Happening” closes out with the triumphant and emotional “Home.” “American Dream” carries on this tradition, with “black screen” accounting for 12 minutes of the album’s nearly 70-minute runtime. A pulsating synth moves the song along before the piano in the outro certifies the track as one of the most emotionally moving on the album.

LCD Soundsystem has always been a fantastic band, but skepticism is sure to follow any breakup. The group has managed to meet the expectations they set for themselves with another incredible album. “American Dream” doesn’t have a single bad song on it, and tracks like “how do you sleep?” and “call the police” are some of the best Murphy has ever written.

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