It takes some serious gall to retire your band only to revive it less than five years later. LCD Soundsystem didn’t just retire, their “final act” in 2011 was one of the most prolonged, over-the-top curtain calls for a band that hadn’t even existed for a decade, playing four farewell shows and even releasing an emotional concert film. All of that would have been perfectly fine if the band had announced a hiatus, rather than a retirement, or else stayed “retired” for at least ten years. But somehow the fact that they came back in 2015 felt like a slap in the face, or at least a like a “gotcha.”
LCD is a special band that meant a lot to a lot of people, and now that they’ve gamed the system into regularly playing shows three times the size of the ones they did in 2011, they mean a lot to even more people. For all of these reasons, expectations are riding higher than ever now that James Murphy and Co. have deigned to grace us with new music.
“Call The Police” and “American Dream” are the first songs released off the group’s upcoming fourth album, and at first listen, they sound very much like LCD Soundsystem songs. Murphy isn’t trying to do much differently than he has in the past, but on the other hand, both also fit into the vaunted category of “important, anthemic LCD songs,” a place where “All My Friends,” “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down,” and “All I Want” also reside.
“Call The Police” even gets blatantly political, which outside of Murphy’s description of music-taste-as-politics on “Losing My Edge,” the band hasn’t really ever done before. Beginning by paraphrasing Neil Young’s Vietnam-era slogan, “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” Murphy goes on to describe old guys who “are frightened and frightening to behold” and plainly states, “When we all start arguing the history of the Jews/You got nothing left to lose.” Musically, the song’s motorik beat provides urgency while the rest of the band layers harmony on top of harmony, expertly constructing a climax that lasts for minutes and keeps subtly building on itself.
“American Dream” is more of the classic “man approaching middle age grows increasingly disillusioned and nostalgic about the world” LCD song, a description which could be stretched to describe about half of their discography. Over a synthy waltz that melds the ‘50s and ‘80s together as adeptly as any David Lynch soundtrack, Murphy sings about looking at yourself in the mirror during an acid trip and getting your age exposed by the morning sunlight, again able to capture the pangs of aging more poetically than the vast majority of his greying indie peers.
LCD appear to have returned stronger than ever, which makes their retirement look even more like it may have been a cunning marketing move. However, it’s hard to argue with music this good. We should expect an album sometime in the coming months, and it sounds like it’ll be a doozy.