The Music Man: Why LCD Soundsystem matters


Justin Curto, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

At this point, you may actually be living under a rock if you’ve never heard of LCD Soundsystem. (Not really, though, since I still manage to find people who know nothing about the band when I bring it up in conversation.)

After playing its presumed last show in April 2011, James Murphy — LCD Soundsystem’s lead vocalist, producer, songwriter and principal mastermind — announced a reunion early in 2016. And now, that reunion is in full swing.

LCD Soundsystem played its first reunited show last night at Webster Hall in New York City, and is getting ready to play there again tonight as I post this blog. All this is in preparation for some of the biggest shows the band will ever perform — headlining sets at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, with other festivals interspersed. A headlining tour will likely come with all this, and a reunion album is confirmed to be in the works.

But LCD Soundsystem was never supposed to be this popular.

The main appeal of LCD Soundsystem has forever been the band’s facade of mediocrity. Murphy is the epitome of an everyman — he started LCD Soundsystem in his early 30s, after years of not making it as a DJ in New York. While LCD Soundsystem’s music always had critical acclaim on its side, the band never really broke into the realm of top 40. Even critically, LCD Soundsystem has never been completely on top — Pitchfork named both “Sound of Silver” and “This Is Happening” the second-best album of the year when they were released in 2007 and 2010, and the same publication said “All My Friends” was the second-best song of the ’00s.

Because of this, it almost feels sacrilegious that I didn’t discover LCD Soundsystem until the reunion sparked its newfound popularity. But, once I started to hear a ton about a band that was previously one of music criticism’s biggest indie darlings, I knew I had to listen. And, trust me, I wish I would have heard LCD Soundsystem’s music a lot sooner.

The fact that Murphy is so typical made LCD Soundsystem’s music so easy to relate to, though, unlike much of electronic music today. At the heart of it all, Murphy is as real as anyone else, and his music with LCD Soundsystem reflects the struggles that we all have.

LCD Soundsystem’s first single, “Losing My Edge” — one of the band’s best songs ever — is, simply enough, about Murphy losing his edge to the up-and-comers who are cooler than him. Isn’t that relatable today, with hipster culture’s takeover? “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” is, quite simply, about having a favorite band, which I can definitely relate to. And “All My Friends” — which I could argue is the best song written since 2000 — is just about the good and bad sides of friendship. Simple and unpretentious.

That’s the beauty of LCD Soundsystem. Sure, the band has mixed rock, punk, funk and electronic in a way that’s never been done before. Sure, the seven or so live members of LCD Soundsystem may have perfected the live show for electronic bands. But, the true impact of LCD Soundsystem — why the band strikes a chord with so many people, like me, to the point where we’re watching a documentary about that April 2011 show or checking Pitchfork for live updates about last night’s reunion — is that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people can relate to James Murphy’s lyrics and performance. That’s what makes this reunion so important, but, more broadly, that’s what makes music so powerful.

Senior Justin Curto is an avid music lover whose tastes range from alternative rock to dance pop. He enjoys supporting the Kansas City music scene by listening longer to 96.5 The Buzz, rocking out to local music and seeing artists live at his favorite venues in the area.

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