The guy who was always afraid of losing his edge
Anyone who has ever been to New York has one of those 'AHA New York' moments. Whether it’s hailing a yellow taxi, heading to Broadway, standing on top of the Empire State or finding yourself on the set of a Sex In The City episode - it’s that moment you realise you made it to the big apple. Mine? Bumping into James Murphy while doing the mad dash across the road in Times Square. Taxis were honking at pedestrians crossing road and in the midst of my hurry to get out of their way I've rudely bumped into someone, turned around to apologise, only to realise who it was. I then continued to point to James Murphy who had kept strolling away and I screamed “I know that was you James Murphy”. Not my finest fan girl moment but it was memorable.
The unlikely front man of LCD Soundsystem - bearded, middle aged, sneaker and suit wearing guy is my definition of New York. Not just because "New York, I love You But You're Bringing Me Down" is the song I think of when I think of the big apple, but because he embodies the city. He's the guy who made something out of nothing, the guy that made middle aged men feel like they could be hip again, he made doing things you love regardless of looks and age cool and prejudice free (well...to an extent). Murphy is the guy who's had an obsession with changing the sound of the New York turnstile beeps since the 90's - how more New York can you get?
LCD Soundsystem formed in 2002, releasing a bunch of singles before "Losing my Edge" really got people talking about them. The song couldn't define Murphy more, the guy who always seemed worried about the way the world was headed, the way pop culture was going and afraid of, in essence, loosing his edge in society to new upcoming trends "But I’m losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent". Little could he have predicted that he created such a movement for not letting go of something. In January 2005 the band dropped their self-titled debut studio album to fans and adoring critics alike. They followed that with 45:33, a composition they did as part of Nike's Original Run series. The track is in fact 45 minutes and 58 seconds long despite it’s name.
The bands dropped the 'now club floor regular at all hip establishments' song "North American Scum" ahead of their second studio album, Sound of Silver, which was released on March 20, 2007. Again, the album was received incredibly well and got the band a Grammy nom that year for Best Electronic/Dance Album and up for album of the year by a number of publications. "All My Friends" was the standout track off the album - the timeless song named by Pitchfork as the 2nd best song from the 2000's (loosing out to OutKast). It was the embodiment of LCD and their feelings on youth and subsequently became an anthem for their fans, “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life”.
This Is Happening (which was up until recently thought to be the bands last album) was released in 2010. If Sound of Silver was their teenage rebellion/coming of age album, This is Happening was their bigger, bolder, wiser self. Murphy grew balls, the band grew up and got more fearless. There's "Home", the realisation of “ You’re afraid of what you need” and "Dance Yrself Clean" mapping the paranoia that comes with age "Talking like a jerk except you are an actual jerk, and living proof that sometimes friends are mean".
The band called it quits with a big fucking goodbye/ this is it/ last show ever at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2011 (preceded by 4 warm up shows...).There’s the goodbye album, the documentary DVD, the shirts, the crying fans on film believing wholeheartedly that that was their last show, their last song. Little did those fans know (little did we all know), little probably did the band know that they would be back for another album only 6 years later. Somewhere between that show, Murphy’s coffee creation stint, directing projects (Little Duck”, Murphy’s first directorial effort), his wine bar (Murphy opened a wine bar named Four Horsemen in 2015 in Williamsburg) and everyone else's side projects, they decided they had hung up their boots long enough and the studio and stage were calling.
So how does a band re-launch themselves after 5 years of "hiatus" and 7 years since their last album? There are plenty of fans feeling tricked and deceived. Here is the band they mourned for, paid large sums to see ,and their only to rise from merely a nap in the grand scheme of music timelines. Murphy responded to this in a note posted to the band’s web site, “but in my naiveté i hadn’t seen one thing coming: there are people who don’t hate us at all, in fact who feel very attached to the band, and have put a lot of themselves into their care of us, who feel betrayed by us coming back and playing. who had traveled for or tried to go to the MSG show, and who found it to be an important moment for them, which now to them feels cheapened. i just hadn’t considered that. i know—ridiculous on my part.”
Undoubtedly the new album will be something the fans and media lap up - not just the likeminded 40 year old guys from Brooklyn feeling they haven't had someone to "understand" their creative ambitions for 5 years. Their hits are after all, still on high rotation in bars and clubs across the globe - the band that can get your head bobbing and feet moving from the opening chords. Always and forever at the hearts of the indie kids afraid of loosing their edge - as I'm sure Murphy is pleased about. The New Yorker published a piece recently about LCD and their resurrection bringing up those feelings of anxiety in us again. Their presence is re-invigorating that quest to solve the answers to questions like "Am I relevant?" At a time when our generation is confronting our own coming-of-age (as every generation has before) and wondering if it's time to accept adulthood, LCD decide to come back to remind us of our youth, perhaps hindering our process of letting go.
Without sounding like a complete tosser I’ve seen them all. Over years of gig and festival attendance, I’ve seen every band I’ve wanted to see to date - some multiple times. But LCD is the one that slipped away. I had chances, sure, but something always managed to get in the way. Now their back together, and with plans to catch them at Splendour in the Grass later in the year, I'm hoping they are the cherry on top, the piece de resistance - the missing piece to unlock the Da Vinci Code perhaps. I stand in the camp with the aging hipster guys in Brooklyn, excited for the comeback.