No matter your opinion on LCD Soundystem’s studio albums, it’s pretty hard to deny the band’s enthusiastic stage presence and tight sound in concert. There’s a reason the band helped anchor Coachella, Pitchfork, Wireless, and Leeds this year along with touring worldwide in support of This is Happening. And while LCD undoubtedly remains the brain-child of seminal hero James Murphy, a quick pan around the Pool/Miloco studio in Southern London reveals a great deal of talent.
There’s synthesizer pyromaniac Gavin Russom, indie darling and DFA orchestral star Nancy Whang, all backed by Pat Mahoney’s unrelenting and unparalleled disco-style rhythm on drums. London Sessions is as much a tribute to these artist’s talent and their unmatched stage bravado as it is about faithfully recreating album cuts.
And as much as London Sessions is a testament to the talent LCD Soundsystem has absorbed since its estranged infancy, the album also effortlessly catalogues the band’s sound from twelve-inch B sides to This is Happening. Viewing LCD live in concert you notice that they perform sans computer, a feat rarely accomplished in today’s music landscape. And I’d argue against the purists and say that most artists benefit from the reliability of a computer on stage, but not LCD Sounsystem, lead by Murphy’s unyielding energy and the band’s perfectly raucous sound. Tracks like “Pow Pow” benefit greatly from the spontaneity of the live performance. Murphy wishes happy birthday to a British DJ, talks about getting cable, calls out a band mate for having a cellphone ring, and yet still tells Michael Musto to fuck off. There is a certain raw energy and power that comes with each track on London Sessions. Even LCD’s flagship song, “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” one which I’ve heard hundreds of times, sounds incredibly fresh and inventive on this album. I don’t know if it’s the in-your-face electric guitar, the bass line that sounds like it has been ripped from a bad ’80s porno, or the otherworldly noises the aging Murphy makes as he screams into his mic.
As the rumors continue to swirl that This is Happening will be LCD Soundsystem’s last studio album, I can’t help but take solace in the fact that London Sessions brings the band’s career full circle. Where there was honesty in the lyricism of “Losing My Edge” in 2002, there is now sonic honesty in the vivacious rock and roll that is the London Sessions.
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