Lookin’ for some hot stuff

LCD Soundsystem creates seamless blends of rock and dance music on the latest ‘Sound of Silver’

Haily Gostas

There’s always a tendency after February’s end to try to drag summer in at the first given chance. Though only 40 degrees outside this past week, I was still so excited, I donned a pair of cutoff shorts and threw open every window in my house. After weeks of heavy snow, I’ll take what I can get in order to achieve that good ol’ June-through-August feeling.

LCD Soundsystem
ALBUM: “Sound of Silver”
LABEL: DFA Records

My soundtrack during this period of slight cabin fever was LCD Soundsystem’s latest offering, “Sound of Silver.” James Murphy, the mastermind behind the moniker, must have had me and other warm-weather obsessees in mind when releasing something so unbelievably groovy at this point in the year; as if to give us all the chance to get an early start on getting the party started.

But the album, like the climate all-too-quickly celebrated, has plenty of bite to all its bodacious brawn. There’s something truly brilliant and raw beneath the shiny surface; a chilly compilation of intelligent, sincere grooves cleverly disguised as shallow summer songs. It’s the most realistic means for welcoming in the temperate when still subjected to the occasional, unpredictable cold.

Furthermore, “Sound of Silver” is one of the more seamless fusions of summer-appropriate dance, punk rock and funk. It surpasses not only the same attempts made by other, more snot-nosed acts like !!!, but also LCD Soundsystem’s eponymous 2005 debut.

The difference is that Murphy – an unpretentious, unabashed music nerd with a vast home collection containing everything from 1970s art rock, post-punk, disco and obscure German techno – has the gumption to make dance records that flow like real albums for perfect moments. Even better, he’s an analog junkie who discourages software abuse: in playing the album’s countless actual instruments himself, he doesn’t let “Sound of Silver” fall victim to the overmastered production that’s plagued so much would-be-great electronica.

In comparison to Murphy’s oft-jagged first album, “Sound of Silver” takes a slightly tidier approach that, in its directness, packs more punch. It never feels like a cut-and-paste job just for the sake of showing off, say, his adoration for Brian Eno’s robotic pre-new-wave (opener “Get Innocuous” and the title track) or the weary city love letters of Lou Reed (the endearing, deal-sealing final song, “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”). Instead, it’s just the much-labored final product of someone connecting past and future in order to properly suit the present.

“Sound of Silver” really doesn’t contain any mundane moments. “Time To Get Away” and the first single “North American Scum” boast the same sneering strut and plunking percussions as LCD Soundsystem’s big hit “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House.” Both are equally capable of getting asses to shake. With its speeding-train piano riff and rabid cymbal strikes, “All My Friends” sounds like a long-lost New Order number that swiftly grabs on and refuses to give.

Still, Murphy never totally loses his audience in all the manic merrymaking, as evident by the sleek, poignant “Someone Great.” It’s a bittersweet pop song structured around a pretty vocal-glockenspiel melody and drenched in ambiguous loss (what kind exactly we’re not sure: “To tell the truth I saw it coming / the way you were breathing”). Most of all, though, it proves Murphy is a great songwriter, not just an accomplished musician with a bag of studio tricks.

Ultimately, “Sound of Silver” should be declared spring’s soundtrack, an accomplished breath of fresh air that in its tight nine songs, never gets too carried out or too wrapped up in the frivolous seductions of summer.