“This is Happening” is apparently the end of a decade (well, nine years to be exact) for disco Renaissance man James Murphy and his LCD Soundsystem moniker. By helping to propel the ‘dance-punk’ tag after his cranky, but endearing landmark single “Losing My Edge” in 2002, Murphy continued on with three nine-song albums, a Nike mix and a remix release.
Though recorded at Rick Rubin’s famed Los Angeles Mansion in Laurel Canyon, the tracks on “This is Happening” could only meekly be considered ones from Murphy’s ‘LA years,’ and rather play as a hearty follow-up to 07’s acclaimed “Sound Of Silver.” Though it may cheapen your read to quote another review, UK publication, Dummy, called it best when they covered the album back in May:
‘This Is Happening”’ isn’t a dance album or a rock album or a disco-punk album, it’s quite simply an LCD Soundsystem album. ( Its) chief fault is that the album that preceded it was just so good, that anything else seems an unnecessary footnote. Sure a footnote that is head and shoulders above most the competition and will proudly sit in the upper reaches of most end of year polls, but a footnote nonetheless.
The sentiments above are much of what I’ve gathered over listens of “This is Happening.” From the start of “Dance Yrself Clean” and its pitter-pat of percussion, that grows to a 3:10 marked synth whiz, to the perfect feel-good closer of “Home,” this is the familiar LCD sound I love.
Like his trademark white tee, Murphy has a history of keeping things familiar. “Pow Pow” is “This is Happening’s” “Losing My Edge” or “Yeah,” “Drunk Girls” finishes the quirky single trilogy of “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” and “North American Scum,” whereas “I Can Change” and “All I Want” hit on all the same emotional stage as “All My Friends.”
Speaking of the poignant bit, the grandest takeaway here is seeing Murphy lament on how, well… this all happened. Dance punk came and (to a lesser extent) went, LCD toured the globe over-and-over, made videos, garnered praise, topped the charts, swam through a shipwrecked industry and still managed to headline—and command—festival slots; a champagne boozy Murphy was near tearfully ecstatic towards the end of their recent Coachella set.
During a ‘secret’ gig in NYC back in April, NME reported how Murphy pleaded, on his knees not to leak the album: “we spent two years making this… I don’t care about money- after it comes out, give it whoever you want for free, but until then, keep it to yourself.”
There are no bad songs on “This is Happening.” Murphy and Co (a full-fledged seven-member live outfit) are noted for wearing their influences (quite noticeably) on their sleeves and the branded sounds of kraut, post-punk, no-wave, and the Larry Levan/Tom Moulton disco heyday are again ready to be heartily spooned up. You’ll hear Eno, Kraftwerk, Bryne, Suicide, etc. (as before)—but one of my favorite rehashes comes at track eight, where Murphy takes an obvious leap into Iggy Pop (and his “Idiot”) with the lazy, space-crawl of “Somebody’s Calling Me,” “This is Happening’s” ode to 1977’s key track “Nightclubbing.”
After a few proper front-to-back listens of “This Is Happening,” the truth of the record stands with its space in (evidently) book-ending the LCD career. It’s no “S/T,” and it’s no “Silver,” it’s just, as Dummy echoed above, another brilliant LCD record, that happens to be the last.
Words: Matt Draper
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