LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin) 

Are you ready to say goodbye to LCD Soundsystem? Because the inherent drama of an announced "final" album insists that we prematurely indulge in nostalgia, and asks that we cherish these final moments before they're gone. That ephemeral glow subsumes This Is Happening, and it's a struggle to decontextualize the album in order to judge it by its own merits.

In my gut, I feel that this is the weakest LCD album, which may or may not be related to the outfit's retirement plans. Let's consider "Drunk Girls," a gimmicky anthem being promoted as the lead single, whose spiritual forebears include throwaway songs like the Beastie Boys' "Girls" on License to Ill, or that Katy Perry song, though it sounds more like the Jim Carroll Band or Richard Hell and the Voidoids: willfully sloppy, referential, cavalier and insincere. I don't mean to impugn Hell or Carroll here; LCD's James Murphy can't pull it off as they could.

The song's also not indicative of the rest of the album, which is basically disco krautrock with some plaintive indie ballads interspersed. Weirdly, these latter moments work best. "All I Want" is a bit of sublimely upbeat melancholia.

It's hard to pin down, but This Is Happening doesn't demand to be listened to like Sounds of Silver or the eponymous debut. It's content to be atmospherics, or perhaps this album just makes insistence seem shrill. It sparkles in the background and colors the outlines of things in the room just a bit.

More by Sean Bottai


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