Murphy’s Facebook post a year later makes it clear that he still seems to think so. Maybe I’m a perpetual optimist, but as the recent glut of reunion tours shows, there will always be a market for nostalgia (for music “unremembered” or otherwise) should Murphy choose to stage a reunion. As we wrote about The Last Waltz a couple weeks back, Shut Up And Play The Hits was functionally the end of LCD Soundsystem, even though on camera the members of the LCD family, unlike the Band, didn’t seem ready to quit being musicians together. So until they decide to quit this nonsense instead and re-form, here are their 10 best songs.
Exploring LCD Soundsystem’s ’45:33′ Track from 2006: A Standout in Songs by LCD Soundsystem
In an interview with The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones, Murphy said of what is widely regarded as his best song, “I hated the song. I thought it was too poppy, and I was embarrassed.” Definitely one of the more romantic songs LCD has ever made, “All My Friends” is full of pseudo-aphorisms, no regrets, and the steadily chugging rhythm of a tour bus’s wheels. At times, the weary nostalgia and chordal progressions are even reminiscent of New Order’s “Ceremony” (even the specter of death is there). Murphy does earnest as well as he does satirical, and the takeaway from “All My Friends” — the call and response of “Where are my friends tonight?” “If I could see all my friends tonight” — feels very true in light of Murphy’s Facebook message emphasizing the lasting quality of LCD’s friendship, if not necessarily their making music together.
Exploring LCD Soundsystem Songs: ‘New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down’ from Sound Of Silver (2007)
“Someone Great” is somewhat of a sleeper hit. That tell-tale ticking beat originally showed up about nine minutes into “45:33,” peeking out from behind the tail end of Part 2. Many of LCD’s songs are nested within each other like Russian dolls, and “Someone Great” feels, again, almost like the aftermath of gauntlets thrown down on “I Can Change.” “To tell the truth I saw it coming/ The way you were breathing/ But nothing can prepare you for it/ The voice on the other end,” he sings as the continual glow in the background pulses in like pain from a new wound. It also fits the song’s temporal setting: early in the morning, when everything that happened still seemed like a dream and it still hurts to open your eyes. The track delves into the raw emotional state following a loss or a breakup, capturing the poignant moments of realization and the struggle to come to terms with unexpected changes. The juxtaposition of the pulsating rhythm and introspective lyrics creates a haunting atmosphere that resonates with the listener’s own experiences of heartache and longing.
Top LCD Soundsystem Songs: Unveiling the Charisma of “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”
As mentioned earlier, Murphy wrote “Losing My Edge” after hearing club DJs playing music he assumed only he knew about. Against a backing beat Change,” additional vocal loops crowd around Murphy as he states matter-of-factly, “I’m losing my edge,” slipping off the edge of the beat to reinforce the point. By the end, he’s resorted to desperately listing bands like a barfly recounting past conquests, and the song closes out on one last nyah-nyah-nyah courtesy of Nancy Whang: “You don’t know what you really want.” It’s just ironic that, more than a decade later, it’s actually LCD’s frontman who doesn’t seem to know what he really wants. And maybe that was intentional: As Klosterman asks in Shut Up And Play The Hits, “When you start a band, do you imagine how it will end?”
Top LCD Soundsystem Songs: Exploring the Melodic Evolution of “I Can Change” (From This Is Happening, 2010)
By this point, the cowbell clangs and organ buzz that set off “North American Scum” have become instantly recognizable as the anti-Pledge Of Allegiance. Whether you listened to it first on one of NPR’s indie workout playlists or blasted it in defiance of the noise complaints that shut down your house party, “North American Scum” is one of the finest anthems of our generation. As the guitar that rattles like a malcontent in the background bursts to the forefront of the chorus, you can’t help but feel your heart swell at being a goddamned American.
Exploring further into LCD Soundsystem’s discography, the track “I Can Change” from the album ‘This Is Happening’ brings forth an evolution in the band’s melodic narrative. With its pulsating beats and poignant lyricism, it strikes a chord that resonates beyond the confines of its genre. This song’s evolution in sound reflects a poignant exploration of personal change and vulnerability, a departure from the more assertive tones in “North American Scum.” The emotional depth embedded within “I Can Change” transcends boundaries, inviting listeners to embrace introspection and self-transformation while immersing themselves in the rich sonic tapestry LCD Soundsystem has meticulously crafted.
Exploring ‘You Wanted A Hit’ from ‘This Is Happening’ (2010): Dissecting the Track’s Impact and Sound
The frustratingly radio-unfriendly “Dance Yrself Clean,” on the other hand, may as well have been written as a merry “fuck you” to the industry archetypes Murphy addresses on “You Wanted A Hit”. The verses cruise at a low volume for minutes at a time, faking out the first few choral builds with a twittering flute instead of the crashing beat we’ve come to expect. When the song finally splits its seams with a sudden uptick in loudness and percussive force for the chorus, though, it’s almost worth endlessly twiddling the volume knob for most of the song’s eight minutes. Plus, there’s the Muppets music video, which is one of the best music videos ever made.
“Dance Yrself Clean” Emerges from “This Is Happening” (2010): Exploring LCD Soundsystem’s Anthem
“We both know that’s an awful line, but that doesn’t make it wrong,” Murphy says at one point in “You Wanted a Hit.” It might be perceived as a response to “Tell me a line,” which directly precedes it. Despite this parallel, “Hit” delves into addressing the industry frustrations that contributed to LCD’s decline. “You wanted a hit/ But maybe we don’t do hits,” he sings as the layers of synthesizers peel away, revealing the simmering handclaps of a rebellion and a low, stalking guitar line. It evokes memories of LCD Soundsystem’s “Tribulations,” an icy synth-pop track that was among the first to blur the boundary between personal and political themes (“Get your payments from the nation”).
Exploring ‘North American Scum’ by LCD Soundsystem: A Highlight from ‘Sound Of Silver’ (2007)
After sequestering himself in the studio, Murphy wrote lyrics so vulnerable that he had to leave the room when he asked Pat Mahoney to listen. Upon Murphy’s return, Mahoney offered him a hug. And truly, after a line like “I can change if it makes you fall in love,” anyone would feel compelled to embrace Murphy. The juxtaposition between electronic chirps and a two-note bass line resembles the dueling voices of a lover’s quarrel, a narrative Murphy deftly presents. Despite rumors suggesting a split with his wife around the song’s creation, the emotional truth within “I Can Change” remains unaltered. “Tell me a line,” he requests, even as he generously dispenses them, almost as if hoping one might resonate. The song encapsulates emotional depth that transcends personal circumstances, resonating with listeners through its raw and relatable sentiments.
Losing My Edge”: A Deep Dive into the 2002 Track from “Losing My Edge
This track stands as LCD Soundsystem’s most successful song, garnering a Grammy nod and climbing to No. 29 on the UK charts. Its appeal is evident. Murphy effortlessly crafts an electric atmosphere, kicking off with an emphatic “OW! OW!” and entwining gripping hi-hats, cowbells, and a deliberate shift of the party scene to the garage. Yet, amidst the swagger, hints of lingering insecurity surface. Who, at 35, procures 15 cases of beer, a bus, and a trailer for a group of youngsters? Moreover, hasn’t he been spinning Daft Punk tunes for well over a decade? Murphy maintains his signature blend of wit and self-doubt, slyly delivering lines like “There’s a fist fight brewing at my house/ Because the jocks can’t get in the door.”
Exploring the Resonance of ‘Someone Great’ from Sound Of Silver (2007)
It’s hard to tell who’s the wet blanket here: the city, James Murphy, or Nancy Whang’s funereal piano chords. “Your mild billionaire mayor’s convinced he’s a king,” he sings, as true then as it is now. In her aforementioned article, Patel also noted that the great thing about “Losing My Edge” is that everyone can relate to it, and the same thing goes for “New York I Love You,” a fitting closer for Sound Of Silver and their last show. When the piano starts up again after those interminable silences, it serves as both an explosion of frustration (at a barely missed G train at 2 a.m., say) and of exultation at the way Manhattan looks from the Williamsburg Bridge at night.
“All My Friends” from Sound Of Silver (2007): A Timeless Ode to Friendship and Memories
Before LCD Soundsystem launches into Part 2 of this six-part epic on Shut Up And Play The Hits, Murphy tells Klosterman, “I’ve never gone to a show and loved it without believing something about the people who are doing it, whether it’s a belief I carried in and was confirmed by their performance or they got me straight from the performance, if I didn’t know them.” Seeing Reggie Watts losing his shit scatting onstage in an FU T-shirt did that for me. This song is the first iTunes exclusive: LCD wrote it for Nike, who commissioned LCD to write music for people to run to. Interspersed with Sound Of Silver instrumentals, “45:33″ builds to a sprint with an understated Nile Rodgers guitar line, classically disco keyboard stabs, and whispers of “Shame on you!”
The narrative behind LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” unfolds as a multifaceted story entrenched in the band’s creative evolution. Leading into a segment of the documentary, Murphy’s insightful revelation about performances and personal connections lays the groundwork for this song’s emotive impact. Reggie Watts’ dynamic stage presence becomes a pivotal moment, embodying the essence of musical immersion that resonates deeply with audiences.
This exclusive track holds a unique origin, tailored for a distinct purpose by LCD Soundsystem. Crafted for Nike as music meant to accompany runners, “45:33” merges seamlessly with the soundscape of Sound Of Silver. Its evolution from instrumental interludes to an electrifying sprint encapsulates elements of Nile Rodgers’ guitar finesse, classic disco-inspired keyboard beats, and enigmatic whispers echoing the sentiment of “Shame on you!”
As the curtain draws on our exploration of LCD Soundsystem’s musical catalog, the compilation of their top 10 best songs stands as a testament to the band’s sonic diversity and enduring impact. Each track not only reflects the band’s evolution but also resonates with the complexities of human emotions and experiences. From electrifying beats to introspective melodies, these songs weave a tapestry that transcends time, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of listeners. This selection is more than just a ranking; it’s a journey through LCD Soundsystem’s artistry, showcasing their ability to capture the essence of the human condition in musical form.