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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Sep 26th, 2017

LCD Soundsystem: American Dream

LCD Soundsystem
American Dream
(Columbia)

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I vividly remember LCD Soundsystem’s “last show.” I was new to the band, but my friend had an extra ticket and promised me it was not to be missed. As monumental as it felt to be included in an experience that was equal parts sad and beautiful to the point of tearing up at the end, I couldn’t help but feel like I had arrived (almost) too late to a band that could’ve been a fixture in my life. But years later they returned to headline Coachella followed by the release of two singles, and eventually the album, American Dream.

“Oh Baby” opens featuring a slightly lilting analog lead, and is careful, slow, four on the floor, powerful in its deliberating pace. “Other Voices” is more upbeat, and gives a nearly manic warning as the lyrics remind us “you’re still a baby now, for better or worse.” The dance floor vibe continues on the funky “Change Yr Mind,” which instrumentally is one of my favorites. James Murphy’s stilted lyrics remind me of Stop Making Sense-era David Byrne, with ruthless guitar licks and a grooving bass line.

“How Do You Sleep?” is the fan favorite. It builds with Murphy’s mournful, almost chanting lyrics and a simple, rolling drum beat, with arpeggiated synths bubbling underneath. The sense of discontent is palpable in each measure, with a wobbly lead line like a hammer to every word. It’s so effective in how it captures this current sense of helplessness, a country lying collectively awake at night wondering what we’ll hear on the news tomorrow.

The title track is our gentle letdown into a grim reality, a sing-song salute to a proclaimed revolution that would “set you free from those bourgeoisie.” Suddenly we’re plunged back into “Black Screen,” the last (and longest) track. The synths on this track are cinematic yet sparse at first. The lyrics tell a story of regret and loss over a friendship (rumored to be with David Bowie). If you listen with this in mind, it’s heart-wrenching in how it captures the relatable regret of not staying in better touch with someone.

American Dream is a dark eulogy to everything we thought we knew, a moving summary of grief, loss, and powerlessness. It took me a few tries to get through this album simply because it’s so intense, and has a way of getting to you. Stick with it and take your time because it’s worth it. There are layers upon layers of meaning and brilliance here, and in that respect, I think it’s the best “reunion album” we could have ever hoped for.

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LCD Soundsystem: American Dream