f prizes were only ever given for originality in music, James Murphy would be a loser. Reduced to its constituent parts, Sound Of Silver is possibly the most predictable record ever; the first tune is called “Get Innocuous” and is the sound of Bowie meeting Talking Heads in a Detroit warehouse nearly twenty years ago. Or, more precisely, it’s the sound of a reminiscence of that fictional meeting, today, in a loft in Brooklyn. It’s designed to make you strut, and fast.
“North American Scum” and “Watch the Tapes” are the same kind of stomp-raves as “Movement” or “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” while “Time to Get Away” is minimally funky, repetitive electropop in the vein of “On Repeat” or “Beat Connection.” Indeed, anyone who went for a jog with last year’s 45:33 on their iPod will find several passages of songs here even more familiar than they’d expect.
But what elevates LCD Soundsystem beyond being just the greatest tribute band in the world is the consummate love and style with which Murphy exercises his pastiches, and, increasingly on Sound Of Silver, the sheer weight of emotion he manages to manipulate through his surprisingly rich songwriting.
Because back-to-back at the center of the album are the two best songs Murphy’s ever been involved in: the ruminative, regret-loaded acid-pads of “Someone Great” and the accelerant joie de vivre of “All My Friends.” The former, a meticulously-crafted electro groove with a lyric about a necessarily unidentified personal loss, carries an unexpectedly profound sadness. Thankfully it’s countered by the latter, where excitable pianos and an incessant Krautrock groove build a rose-tinted but realistic reminiscence as a greying hipster looks back on his irreclaimable youth and decides against regret. No one else working this sonic territory has anywhere near this emotional depth.
So by the time the title track rolls around, its bizarrely cheesy lyrics manage to document the emotional arc of the album: “Sound of silver talks to you / Makes you want to feel like a teenager / Until you remember the feelings of / A real, live, emotional teenager / Then you think again.” So good is it, in fact, that we can even forgive the over-earnest geographical love-song “New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down” that closes the record in a flurry of guitars and plangent pianos.
Sound Of Silver harnesses the dance dynamic of LCD’s early singles and strengthens the songwriting impulse Murphy explored on their first album. Yes, of course, it’s a total homage to his favorite music—but it’s an extraordinarily moving one, both emotionally and physically.