This Is Happening
This Is Happening is the portrait of a band fully inhabiting the myth that preceded it: a picture of expectations surpassed, vision expanded, victory pennants unfurled. By 2010, when LCD Soundsystem released their third proper album, they’d been New York fixtures for eight years, graduating from arch, knowing indie-dance anthems (“Losing My Edge”) and house-party destroyers (“Disco Infiltrator”) to the relative maturity of Sound of Silver, in all its melancholy glory. But it was This Is Happening that captured the group’s full essence, balancing the insouciance of “Drunk Girls” and the squirrelly synth-disco of “One Touch” against the flat-out ecstatic “Home” or the dreamy reverie of “I Can Change,” a song that makes encroaching midlife crises sound almost bearable.
LCD founder, frontman, and center of gravity James Murphy had always boasted an encyclopedic musical knowledge, but here he really puts it to work, refashioning the band’s sound around a hybrid of art rock and disco and ambient. It was a way of paying tribute to his heroes, adopting David Bowie’s glam panache, Brian Eno’s livewire circuitry, and David Byrne’s professorial cool.
Through it all, Murphy and co. cast a critical eye on what it means to be hip, hot, and fêted, knowing how so many other buzz-bin bands ended up. They’d hardly become wallflowers; songs like “Pow Pow” are as urgent and celebratory as anything in their catalog. But the weary, conflicted “You Wanted a Hit” underscores the essential kernel of doubt that has always made LCD Soundsystem so relatable: Murphy may be the coolest guy that ever walked the streets of Brooklyn, but he lies awake worrying just like the rest of us.