Calling it: The single of the year is “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” by LCD Soundsystem. It’s a bit left-field from mega-hit blockbusters such as “Hey Ya,” “Toxic” and “Milkshake.” But they’ve got nothing on James Murphy’s smirking, hedonistic New Order-meets-T. Rex synth-banger. It’s ridiculously infectious, and unlike Murphy’s previous singles, “Losing My Edge” and “Yeah,” this one has the major label backing (a la Capitol Records) to give it the proper nudge toward mainstream success. Does that mean it will actually make it to TRL? Probably not. I’d even be surprised to hear the band on alt-rock radio. But even if the song only makes it as far as one’s home stereo, its electro-tastic beats and earworm melody will ensure it lingers for days.
As instantly gratifying as “Daft Punk” is, there are eight more such tracks queued up behind it, just as catchy, just as dancefloor-worthy and just as clever. Murphy can put together a hell of a single, no doubt, though there’s an even broader ranges of sounds in his quiver. And with the release of LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled long-awaited debut on Capitol, it’s become apparent that he knows how to sequence a proper 45 minutes of music.
Those who have heard LCD’s first two singles know that Murphy has a knack for jocular anthems, paradoxically cool and self-deprecating. “Losing My Edge” had a little fun at the expense of those most likely to own the record, creating a surreal bit of irony, but an amusing one nonetheless. Like “Edge,” “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” is similarly witty. But the New York producer behind the quips and everything DFA proves himself multifaceted on this collection, wherein he makes dance music that has equal appeal to the clubbers and the punk rockers. Part of this can be attributed to the heavy late-’70s post-punk influence on the record. The woozy “Too Much Love” owes a lot to Speaking in Tongues-era Talking Heads, while “Movement” is essentially The Fall with a high-speed house intro. Take into account the Beatlesque “Never As Tired as When I’m Waking Up,” a dreamy “Dear Prudence”-like ballad, and there’s enough fodder to appease those with an aversion to anything with accelerated BPMs.
The grooves alone, however, are enough to keep anyone intrigued, entertained and moving. Murphy’s specialty is getting the party people on the floor (most likely their own) and the most beat-heavy selections here do a pretty good job of living up to LCD Soundsystem’s now widespread reputation. “Thrills” is short but densely percussive and fun. “Disco Infiltrator” lives up to its name, all minimalist disco grooves and falsetto vocals. And “Tribulations,” with its super-catchy New Order-esque melody, is quite possibly the best thing on here. In fact, it could even surpass “Daft Punk.”
But when all of the post-punk anthems and beat exercises seem a bit overwhelming, the closing track, “Great Release,” offers some respite in the way of a Brian Eno-influenced electro-ballad. Murphy has studied his Another Green World as much as he has Second Edition or Power, Corruption and Lies, or so it seems. And after all that, there’s still a second disc of LCD Soundsystem’s collected 12-inch singles on DFA, including his two most highly touted tunes, “Losing My Edge” and the outstanding epic “Yeah.” It’s not a bad idea on the part of Capitol for including these, as it seems almost mandatory to own these in addition to the proper album.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks highly of Murphy’s production. One Britney Spears supposedly attempted a collaboration with the New Yorker, but the attempt failed, unsurprisingly. The money probably would have been great and Spears would have actually sounded decent for once. But I’m much happier having these nine disco anthems instead.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.