#36: LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great (2007)
Time drips like a leaky tap – this much we know. Turn your back for a moment, and the bathtub will be at least half full, rubber ducks floating away on a sea of sound.
Our record shelves are littered with discs of deceptive vintage, records ten, twenty, thirty years old that still sound as fresh and invigorating as they did upon first listen. Entire soundtracks which, when hitting the level of milestone that invites music press reappraisal, trigger a slight intake of collective breath – Album X can’t be that old, surely?
It could be argued that any sleight of hand is of our own volition – should you in any way define yourself by the music that’s accompanied your journey, the particulars of that journey’s duration provide somewhat obvious clues that the track of your sixteenth year will gain a historical context just as soon as the next birthday arrives, as experience segues across memory relentlessly and deliciously. But it’s still something we all do – nostalgia’s funny like that.
In such context it feels like mere months since Sound Of Silver was released. One of the most alluring albums of the last decade – maybe even the very best album of that decade; there’ll be no lauding of Kid A for this particular kid. Regular readers here will recognise a tendency to bang on about intangibles such as ‘flight’ and ‘poise’, as if such phraseology is by default objective in nature, as if we could all go grab our yardsticks and calibration devices, then hit upon exactly the same measurements. But florid prose aside, if you’re not certain what it is I mean, one listen to this album in its entirety will explain far more precisely – and far more instinctively – than any phalanx of words hereabouts ever could.
This is a suite of songs supremely balanced, assembled with a knowing nod and a keen eye for intricate eclecticism – the intelligence derived from never swamping the overall vibe. Previous LCD Soundsystem releases proved that James Murphy breathes the motifs of vampish electronica, archly-executed inflexions slotted together so that whether minimal or expansive, each track ripples. Then Sound Of Silver hit the turntable, an LP that transposes this wry aesthetic by adding distinct layers of ennui-tinged seduction – albums don’t come any savvier.
All of which makes selecting the LCD track that appears in this list somewhat difficult. The affectionate and iconoclastic riot of ‘North American Scum’. The faded, recalcitrant glamour embedded across ‘All My Friends’. Opener ‘Get Innocuous’ drives forward with a delightful ferociousness, echoes of Berlin-era Bowie pepping up the narrative, whilst closing track ‘New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down’, a slowed-down, home city lament reminiscent of post-Velvets Lou Reed, kicks into life with a masterful touch.
Ultimately however, it’s ‘Somewhat Great’ below the words. Lush, exquisitely pinioned, characterized by exotic and obtuse synth-pop manoeuvres. The lyric is pointed squarely at the bitter-sweet – it’s a song about loss, the introspective fugue of break-up. But it’s also a song filled with hope, six-plus minutes where the listener is embraced in all forms of subtle, back-handed ways. Electronica simply doesn’t come any better than this, and even now – five years later – repeated listens still identify some previously-obscured nuance that keeps on echoing long after the turntable needle has been lifted.
Epic, I might even suggest.
LCD Soundsystem / Someone Great