Ben’s Hot Takes: LCD Soundsystem and the Curse of Expectations
I don’t do this much, but I’m really excited for an album. I have been excited for about two years (Hoping for five) for this new LCD Soundsystem album. I started listening to music in 2013 and stumbled upon LCD Soundsystem. They quickly became my favorite band. I may have started listening to music later in my life than most, but I stuck with it because I loved showing other people music. I would go up to people and say that they should listen to LCD Soundsystem (I still do). My programmed response to, “What’s your favorite band?” quickly became LCD Soundsystem and the rest is history. Now you might be saying, “What’s the problem, Ben? You love LCD Soundsystem as much as James Murphy loves New York, what’s the big deal?” but *Sigh* yeah, I’ve never been in this position before. LCD Soundsystem was broken up when I first discovered them, and now they’re back together, making a new album (Which I will now call LCD4).
I have never gotten this excited for an album before; usually the bands I like don’t come up with albums while I like them, and usually, I listen to so much music that I may be ambivalent about other artists’ releases. The last album I was extremely excited about was either the newest Mac DeMarco album (Which I loved) or Thundercat’s Drunk (Which I also loved). Even so, I have never been counting the days until an album I am anticipating (one that I have such an emotional attachment to) before this one.
Therein lies the problem, what if I don’t like it? The two singles that were released the previous Friday were okay. They were just okay. I think, overall, I’m afraid that this album won’t live up to expectations.
I think that all this pressure is self-imposed. LCD created three great albums that had a progression from one to the other. From LCD Soundsystem’s rough-around-the-edges garage rock feel to Sound of Silver’s polished blend of synths and rock & roll to This is Happening’s Synth centered album. LCD also had a farewell tour when they broke up, with a movie to go with it. The band got together last year through a facebook post that I will link here but quote an excerpt.
i write songs all the time. sometimes they’re just weird songs i sing while changing a baby, or songs about annoying things that i sing to myself, or to friends while sitting at a bar, or about christmas, or new york. sometimes these songs live in my head for years and have verses upon verses added to them, almost infinitely.
early in 2015, i realized i had more of those than i’d ever had in my life. more of them than when i went in to make any LCD record, or when i recorded tapes upon tapes of terrible things in high school. just loads of them, and i found myself a little perplexed. if i record them, what do i do with them? maybe I shouldn’t record them at all? i considered that, which was in a way the easiest option, but it also seemed like a weird and arbitrary (and sort of cowardly) cop-out. but to record them—well then, suddenly i have, what—a record?
here were our choices: 1. make music with your friends and call it something else, which seems hilarious (everteen) or egomaniacal to the point of sociopathic (james murphy solo record). 2. make music, but WILLFULLY EXCLUDE your friends because of the horrors in option 1. 3. make an LCD record with your friends, who want to make said record, and deal with whatever fall-out together. 4. don’t make music, to avoid the horrors of all of the above. 5. make music and, like, hide it somewhere.
To live up to expectations, LCD4 has to be as revolutionary as Sound of Silver, while also not re-hashing on previous styles (Which just seems impossible). With the LCD4 singles coming out, I’m not too sure about this album. To avoid this altogether, they should have just said they were going on a hiatus rather than breaking up in such a fashion.
Here’s where I change gears: I don’t care about the quality of LCD4, and I don’t think you should either. Look at the five choices he had to go through. For any self-respecting LCD Soundsystem fan, aren’t you glad Murphy chose option three? Murphy’s solo career included the soundtrack for an unknown Ben Stiller movie “Greenberg”, would you rather he go it alone? I would rather James Murphy do what he loves and share his music, like I do, with everyone else. I think that James Murphy is encapsulating the mindset of an indie artist, “make music with people you like for whoever will listen to it”. If the album is sub-par, so what! It doesn’t change the quality of their earlier works. Also, a bad LCD Soundsystem song is like pizza, “when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good”.
I don’t care if I love the singles, I would just like to say thank you to James Murphy for making them and sharing them with us.