LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Of all comeback records, the thought of American Dream was the most mouth-watering. James Murphy’s inimitable oeuvre stands out from the dance music scene. and the musical stratosphere has witnessed several vicissitudes in the seven years of his absence so it was always going to be interesting how it fits in.
Despite some self-deprecating musings on here, Murphy has still got it. This is instantly evident as soon as the opener “Oh Baby” gathers steam. There is an impressive smorgasbord of styles incorporated into American Dream – from krautrock to techno; rendering this LCD Soundsystem’s most eclectic effort to date.
It’s also moodier. On previous albums, you wouldn’t have encountered a song as desolate as “I Used To”, which could slot into Bowie’s Blackstar any day of the week. The warbling title track is worthy of some lighter-waving. Murphy’s wit only makes an appearance less than a handful of times. It’s most pronounced on “Tonite” with his facetious take on mortality and the social media. There is also some side-splitting self-parodying here. Through a muffled speakerphone, Murphy proclaims himself as “the hobbled veteran of the disk shop inquisition””
The centrepiece is “How Do You Sleep?” – a behemoth of a dance song. It commences with a tightly-woven tribal rhythm before being transmogrified when the colossal, jouncing bass synths enter. Murphy’s voice is reduced to a distant cry, drowned out by the towering instrumentation. Lo-fi lead single “Call the Police” is an anthem reminiscent of Is This It-era Strokes, filled with air-punching euphoria. The long comedown closer “Black Screen” is a poignant threnody to Bowie, who Murphy regularly communicated with by e-mail.
So LCD Soundsystem’s recrudescence is a triumph. At a time where there has been a scarcity of quality music coming out, American Dream is a godsend – a sonic, aural adventure to lose yourself in. When Murphy utters “I’ve got nothing left to say, I’m just too old for it now”, that’s the only thing he has got wrong on this occasion.
CT Rating: 8/10
The Script – Freedom Child
For their fifth album, The Script have opted to refurbish their sound; departing from their spineless light rock to EDM-pop. This renovation makes their music seem more marketable and even more fit for the radio. But what is more interesting is their decision to touch on political themes. Freedom Child was inspired by recent terrorist attacks and the polarisation of America – there is a track on here named “Divided States of America.”
While it’s refreshing to hear a pop act take on weightier subject matter, The Script do so in an overly schmaltzy manner. Danny O’Donoghue really sings about the need to find solidarity and love in midst of political turmoil – a message too trite to have an effect.
Freedom Child is overflowing with tenth-rate hooks and some awful lines such as “I’m your great white, you’re my great piranha.” The lyrics are celebratory of the world-conquering impact of love. It’s all together a saccharine affair. On “Wonders”, O’Donoghue reads out a bucket list, expressing a desire to see the wonders of the world and on “Make-Up”, he takes on the persona of a father telling his daughter to accept her beauty. O’Donoghue also trips up when attempting to sing in falsetto on multiple occasions.
There are moments where the glossier production reaps rewards. Wedged in between the dead matter is “Deliverance” – an excellent track bound by an infectious groove. The opener “No Man is an Island” is also a respectable pop song, with a tincture of reggae in it. But overall, despite their modifications, The Script fail to hit any heights here.
CT Rating: 4/10
Adam Bielenberg – Music Editor