This Is Happening (Deluxe Edition)
As the mastermind behind LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy has always knowingly played with rock-star tropes. So when he and his entourage were spotted around Hollywood dressed in head-to-toe white in the summer of 2009, it was clear the outfit’s third full-length would be the time-honored LA album. Always on the nose, Murphy set up shop in a dilapidated mansion in Laurel Canyon that had once been the home of Errol Flynn, and where super-producer (and current owner) Rick Rubin had famously recorded the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ seminal Blood Sugar Sex Magik. (It was also rumored that Harry Houdini had lived in the house, giving it a haunted reputation that members of the LCD entourage did little to dispel.) Throughout the recording of what would become 2010’s This Is Happening, Murphy and his housemates covered a wall with Polaroids of various hipster luminaries who’d dropped by the house for late-night shenanigans. The resulting album pays tribute to another famously haunted LA transplant: David Bowie. His influence can be found all over This Is Happening, from the louche strut of “Somebody’s Calling Me”—a sonic homage to Bowie’s “Nightclubbing” collaboration with Iggy Pop—to the cover image, which recalls the art of Bowie’s Lodger album. Another parallel with late-1970s Berlin-era Bowie is that the famously polyamorous star had recently become estranged from his wife Angie—and Murphy was still dealing with a divorce before he began writing the songs on This Is Happening. His feelings about romance at that time can be gleaned from lyrics like “Love is a murderer” (from “I Can Change”), while his complicated relationship with another consort, the music business, is neatly summed up in the title of “You Wanted A Hit.” (The punchline? “But maybe we don’t do hits.”) Hits or not, LCD Soundsystem was now big enough to be billed just below Jay-Z for Coachella 2010. But a month before that performance (and two months prior to the album’s release), Murphy announced that This Is Happening would be the final LCD Soundsystem album. Another rock-star trope—though many fans, rightfully, suspected LCD’s demise wasn’t actually happening.