Jeff Moody


By - May 19th, 2010 04:00 am


If this is really the end, it was fun while it lasted. Supposedly, James Murphy, the unlikely face and force of the dance-rock dynamo LCD Soundsystem, is pulling the plug on the project. Dork-heroes like Murphy are all too rare in the music biz (and in real life!) so it’s sad to see them go off into the great whatever, but at least he’s leaving on a super strong note.

Murphy doesn’t just wear his influences on his sleeve, he wears them on his head like Carmen Miranda wore the produce department on hers, and the prominent fruit on his noggin this last time around is named David Byrne. Listen to “Home” (no, it’s not a Talking Heads cover) and you’ll swear Byrne is crooning right along as the natural and synthetic rhythms percolate together like a lost outtake from “Fear Of Music.” Murphy’s vocal style and sense of phrasing have long been compared to Byrne’s, and on “Home” Murphy openly and comfortably flaunts it.

“Drunk Girls” is the only thing that comes close to an attempt at an FM unit-shifter, with its built-for-frat-bash chorus and fun-to-pick-out-and-loudly-repeat phrases (“Drunk girls take an hour to pee,” “They steal from the cupboards,” and “Drunk girls like to file complaints” are my road-tested faves) and relatively short clock-in time of three minutes and forty-four seconds. It’s by far the shortest track in the set.

Everything else here is a seven-plus minute workout, ranging from the cinematic beauty of “All I Want” (with the best vocal performance of Murphy’s career and a guitar drone ripped straight from Robert Fripp’s fingers) to the pulsating “One Touch” and it’s bizzy Front 242-style layers of thrashing electrons. Murphy plays half-man, half-bot with the vocals, while keyboardist Nancy Whang yells out the chorus in that unvarnished way of hers that’s become so familiar, and so perfect.

There’s something for everyone in this last, great effort. Get it, get familiar with it, let the songs sink in, and you’ll hear something new with each listen. This Is Happening,” just like LCD Soundsystem itself, gets better and better with time.

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