American Dream: Best (or worst?) experienced when awake.

Among my quote list for 2017, the phrase “may you live in interesting times,” has been in my mind constantly.

And I mean, I’m not gonna touch the fickle subject of society’s wholesale problems with a 200-foot-pole. But like Darth Vader I sense something; a presence I’ve not felt since…

Hold let me check-up a list.

*proceeds to go to Wikipedia*>*searches for lists of 2017 albums*>*eyes widen*

Well damn. Between Arcade Fire, The Flaming Lips, Gorillaz, Queens of the Stone Age, The Killers, Mogwai I can’t remember if it was 2006 or 2017. Think about it, a release list comprised of independent darlings, an incompetent president, soldiers still in the Middle East–wait, I said I wasn’t gonna get into it.

Shit, even Maroon 5 and John Mayer released a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for their fans (or what’s left of them) in 2006. Er, I mean 2017 and if we’re checking off lists, all we need now is Franz Ferdinand and The Shins to complete our Noah’s Ark guest list.

However, one mid-aughts artist had me scratching my non-existent beard with interest: LCD Soundsystem. After being converted to Church of Latter Day Soundsystems through Sound of Silver and the Ron Paul album (This Is Happening, I’m a big fan of the album art), a listen to the newest album was needed.

The summer had me eager to listen to the subversive rock reverend, Charles Murphy lament while the Soundsystem deconstructs an increasingly electronic rock scene. Hopefully I won’t have to think too much about modern society as I listen!

And…

*looks at album cover*>*eyes turn back into skull*

OH C’MON, MURPHY, AMERICAN DREAM!?!

Yes, american dream, oh my sweet lord, George Harrison. Charles Murphy is making this hard. Welp, here goes nothing:

Stylistically, the Soundsystem keeps it surreal. Pulsating piano chords, a Korg synth factory that won’t quit and a weird bagpipe-organ Moog all melt away on the clock, with enough ticks and tocks to make Dali blurt “whoa” with eyes wide in drug-induced epiphany.

Throw in some chill bass guitar and some quite honestly not chill lead and rhythm guitars and oh boy, I’m already questioning if Murphy’s singing about dreams or nightmares.

It starts off so innocuous too, with “oh baby” ready to kiss its listener asleep and hold them closer to stop a bad dream. But between the inevitable rhythm of “other voices” and the haunted hallway walk of “how do you sleep?” I don’t think anything could save me from a bad dream.

“i used to” pops and bops and syncopates with a synth machine from my dreams. “change yr mind” drones with sarcasm and the title line repeats but only changes grammatical clothes at the last minute. “tonite” dismantles the magic of tonight with the malice of tomorrow and a synth from yesterday’s 2006.

Then “call the police” comes on and well, shit, I wonder how smart Murphy thinks he is.

I mean with lyrics like these:

It could be over if you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
If you change your mind/
You can change your mind/
You can change your mind.

It’s hard and I mean hard, like, reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaalllllllyyyy hard not to start drawing the lines on the connect the dots: do people only change aesthetically and only at the last minute? Is the fetishization of tonight a symptom of American society’s disdain for the future? Are the police really on the public’s side, or the side of the rich?

Is it only a dream because we have to be asleep to believe it?

And for the most part, Murphy toes his subversive tightrope with little trouble. Even his tribute to Bowie, “black screen” features lyrics with more reality than gravity. And outside of “emotional haricut” I find the music, like Chiron, ready to accompany me on the river to rapid eye dreams yet deeper than mere coffee pot thoughts.

What a relief.

Because when the Gorillaz released Humanz, I wasn’t entirely convinced that the world needed a new Gorillaz album poking holes in the fabric of society. I mean, literally everything said in Demon Days is still applicable today. Humanz felt like the b-sides. It looked like the b-sides.

Instead, the Church of Latter Day Soundsystems swerves away from a belief in itinerant preachers and delivers something fresh if familiar. No leap of faith, American Dream plays with but a sure step for the Soundsystem faithful.

Quick Impressions: Subversive, disjointed, gauche. All words describe to Charles Murphy and LCD Soundsystem as they explore the american dream one cliché at a time. The result? Vintage.

Producer: James Murphy

Tracklist:

  1. “oh baby”
  2. “other voices”
  3. “i used to”
  4. “change yr mind”
  5. “how do you sleep?”
  6. “tonite”
  7. “call the police”
  8. “american dream”
  9. “emotional haircut”
  10. “black screen”

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About BenJamsToo

A young dude with an old soul from Portland, OR but currently teaching and writing in rural France. A lover of rock n roll since his mother first spun The Police’s “Roxanne,” he’s also dabbler in soul, funk, jazz, blues, electronic and hip-hop. Perhaps it’s easier to list what he doesn’t like; most gangster rap, country-western and modern metal disagrees with his stomach. Spends all day wondering what Ruban Nielson eats for breakfast, why Danger Mouse hasn't made a through and through GOOD record since St. Elsewhere, if Kamasi Washington is the Kanye West of jazz and just what the hell people hear in mumble rap. Between those things he writes for Atwood and his own blog, thefriedneckbones.net. Come here for the nice clean thoughts; go there for the ramblings of an insane man.