On his third album of the 2000’s, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy may not have created a new batch of his hardest-hitting dance grooves; however, what Murphy found was a certain level of maturity as he showed some restraint in using particular notes at the most opportune time for this release. What materializes from a different creative approach was Sound of Silver—the band’s best album to date. Found in the heart of this album is probably the best back-to-back tracks on any album this decade between “Someone Great” and “All My Friends.” These two songs, along with a whole set a brash and energetic dance grooves, allow the entire album to succeed as one of the most exciting and diverse collections of indie-electronic music this decade.
The album opens with the hypnotic groove of “Get Innocuous!”—a brooding trance alluding to James Murphy’s Kraut-rock roots. The sardonic title heeds of a personal descent into the doldrums of everyday life, as the automated repetitive chorus asserts “You will normalize / don't it make you feel alive.” As the warning dissipates, the album gives way to LCD Soundsystem’s assertive signature dance style, including the disco and punk heavy beats of “Time to Get Away,” “North American Scum,” and “Watch The Tapes.” On these tracks, Murphy has traded in some of the sprawl found off his debut eponymous album LCD Soundsystem for a cleaner, more polished groove. As his attempt to produce tighter craftsmanship in songwriting progressed, these tracks have become more conventional, yet still maintain the full effect of his older work.
While his focus of songwriting did not necessarily improve the quality of his dance-based tracks, it created an entirely new façade of LCD Soundsystem—one leaning towards indie-pop. This newly-discovered emphasis for Murphy allowed his composition to blossom, allowing him to create some of the best tracks he has ever written. As mentioned above, these tracks are found in the heart of Sound of Silver, with the consecutive tracks “Someone Great” and “All My Friends.”
The dark and settling melancholic “Someone Great” may be the slowest and most stripped down song on Sound of Silver, but it exists as the album’s most moving piece. While the exact details in the lyrics are vague, the message remains one of apparent loss and sadness, as the daily routines of life have lost their meaning for the narrator (“The worst is all the lovely weather / I'm stunned, it's not raining. / The coffee isn't even bitter, / Because, what's the difference?”). The throbbing rhythms presented throughout the song draw imagery of a pulsating heartbeat as well as a warning siren of sorts—a combination which on some levels represents someone alive and struggling with their internal pain.
As solemn mood of “Someone Great” wanes, the tense teetering piano of “All My Friends” builds ups over the course of the song’s minute long intro. This all-too-memorable riff finds itself at the heart of James Murphy’s genius, as he combines a rather simple, catchy lick, effortlessly merging it with a driving 16th note hi-hat drum loop. Whereas in the past James Murphy would have attempted to create his best work through either a minimalist-leaning approach (“Losing My Edge,” “Great Release”) or through intense repetition and layering (“On Repeat,” “Tribulations”), “All My Friends” prevails as his best track to date through finding the perfect space between those two extremes. The track is not only his personal masterpiece, but one of the decade’s finest tracks.
More from the War on Pop's Decade in Review:
#19 Antony and the Johnsons - The Crying Light (2009)
#20 Common - Like Water For Chocolate (2000)
#21 Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (2008)
#22 Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala (2007)
#23 Beach House - Devotion (2008)
#24 El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead (2007)
#25 Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)