New Band of the Month: April – Reflection

For my fourth month of the New Band feature, I selected so-called Dance Punk pioneers LCD Soundsystem (read my initial thoughts here).

After a month of dancing punkishly, what are my thoughts?

I’m trying to remain open-minded because the whole point of this feature is to be receptive to new music and admit that my musical experience, while pretty vast compared to most, still has gaping holes.

That said:  Ugh.

So far in this endeavor of mine, I’ve listened to a mix of bands from a variety of genres, and LCD Soundsystem was the band that felt  like it was closest in proximity to what I normally listen to.  Or, at least, I had that impression because it’s a band that is regularly praised by critics and websites who normally align with my musical taste.

But, man, my April choice turned out to be kind of a chore.  I’ll admit, when getting into a new band, I’m not always in the mood but I force myself to listen just so I can grow more familiar and build my appreciation.  But putting on LCD Soundsystem li-te-rally felt like homework.  It was kind of boring, I had a hard time engaging with it, and by the end I felt like I needed a reward.

If I was to describe LCD Soundsystem, I’d call them “Music for people who don’t want to feel emotions.”  It’s ironic that they are called ‘dance punk’ because the music neither taps the primal id like punk nor makes me want to get up and move.  It shares a superficial resemblance to club music in that it’s mostly processed beats and repeated, inconsequential phrases.  Maybe (maybe) with thumping bass from massive speakers and lights flashing on sweaty bodies it would resonate, but I’ve always felt the best dance music works outside the confines of the club.  This stuff just left me cold.

LCD Soundsystem’s first single, “Losing My Edge,” is all about scenesters/hipsters and it’s a nice sardonic critique of the kind of mindset that believes the more obscure music you know, the cooler you are (“I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know”).  So, it’s rather ironic that LCD Soundsystem tends to be one of those so-called ‘hipster’ bands, beloved more for their ‘relevance’ than their music.  At least, that’s how it seems to a guy on the outside.

Will I Buy An Album?  No.  Not a chance.  That isn’t to say I find the music completely devoid of pleasure (from an intellectual level, there is some fun to be had), but after having listened to a range of their catalog, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by only having a couple of their ‘hits’ in my library.  In other words, if an LCD Soundsystem song comes on in the club, I won’t clear the dance floor but I won’t care when the track ends, either.

Favorite Song: I Can Change” is the first song of theirs I liked and it remains the one I like most.  It’s the one song of the band where the human underneath (James Murphy) actually comes to the surface and I care about anything being sung.  There are a couple of the ‘dance tracks’ I like (“Dance Yrself Clean“), but they’re the exception, not the rule.  Beyond that, “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” is pretty damn good.  Tellingly, this partially acoustic ballad sounds little like the rest of the music in their oeuvre.

Oh, and “Drunk Girls” is just terrible.  Fuck that song.

Next Month: Uncool Rock