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This Is Happening
LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening
Released 17 May 2010
Producer The DFA
Label Parlophone
Length 65:31
Genre Dance-punk
Website www.lcdsoundsystem.com

For those of you new to this New York band, the genre they operate in has been given a variety of names, my favourite of which is punk-funk. This Is Happening, the band’s third album, follows a solid, sometimes exciting debut and a noughties classic Sound of Silver, an album that perfectly captured a very male kind of regard for druggy revelry and the bonds of friendship that can develop between hedonistic lost souls. Some of James Murphy’s (LCD Soundsystem’s main and sometimes only man) best songs such as Sound of Silver's 'All My Friends' and 'New York I Love You' are infused with wistful ruminations– as if they were inspired by early morning come-downs and the conflicting guilt and defiance that comes with it. If the gloriously epic 'All My Friends' was a peak of Everest proportions, then This Is Happening, the groups third album, has a couple of hillocks, the best of which is the funky 'I Can Change', about a tortured lover with an interesting perspective on love. "I can change if it helps you fall in love", goes the key line. This song is also a reminder that Mr. Murphy is the proud owner of a quite affecting voice, especially when he hits those high notes.

However, while there are some fine moments on This Is Happening, it must be noted that LCD Soundsystem’s editing errs on the side of leaving stuff in rather than taking it out. Remember this is a band whose debut album was a double-album. True to form, This Is Happening is a flabby album with each track lasting, on average, seven minutes. The songs aren’t rich enough musically or lyrically to justify such long running times. In the past Murphy has at times been a witty and profound wordsmith but here too many of the tracks reference vague relationships, which fail to engage, as the lyrics are too vague to be touching, too personal to be relatable. In 'You Wanted A Hit', there is three minutes of sub-Kraftwerkian doodling before eventually it settles down into the song. The only shorter track on the album is the first single 'Drunk Girls', a song which gives the impression that its writer sat down with the intention of writing a catchy song. It has a contrived feel similar to Franz Ferdinand’s 'Do You Want To' a couple of years back. It is this lack of inspiration and focus that makes This Is Happening a disappointment.

LCD Soundsystem has always felt like an ostentatious display of James Murphy’s hipster credentials but there has to be a point where you stop being amused by the display of influences on his sleeve and start to think of him as downright derivative. They have reached that point on this album. The David Bowie reference on 'All I Want' is just about forgiveable but the dreary, sub-Iggy Pop drone of 'Somebody’s Calling Me' really makes you wonder whether LCD Soundsystem has run its course.

If you really like LCD Soundsystem’s sound, then This Is Happening might be worth getting. It is, despite the negative comments above, a competent album but suffers severely when compared to either the zeitgeist capturing Sound of Silver or the celebrated artists he seems so hell-bent on referencing. Maybe the best option is to download the better tracks 'Dance Yrself Clean', 'All I Want', 'I Can Change' and 'Home'. Also you can download the single 'Drunk Girls' for free from www.freelcd.ie using the password HAPPEN.

- Eoin Murphy