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This Is Happening


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Performer Notes
  • Following up Sound of Silver was never going to be easy for LCD Soundsystem. There was so much positive reaction from music fans, the press, from everywhere, really, that almost any move James Murphy made was bound to be seen as inferior, or at the very least, flawed in some way. To his credit, he doesn't try to do anything dramatically different on This Is Happening. There are no attempts to hit the top of the charts (a point made crystal clear in the song "You Wanted a Hit"); conversely, there are no attempts to dirty up the sound or make it more challenging. There are no radically new elements added to the LCD sound, nothing subtracted either. Murphy is definitely a savvy enough musician to know when things have gotten stale and need to be changed up; he at some point must have decided (correctly) that the time for a reboot hadn't arrived yet for LCD. Another record of long, dancefloor friendly disco-fied jams mixed with punchy rockers and paced with a couple introspective midtempo ballads is still perfectly acceptable, especially when it's as tightly arranged, energetically played, and thoughtfully constructed as Happening is. Murphy's highly skilled production is all over the record, from the squelchy layers of synths, the dry punch of the drums, and the tricks and surprises that bring the songs to life, to the way he makes it sound like a live band when it's just him (though there are the occasional people helping out, most notably Nancy Whang on backing vocals). And while there isn't a song as staggeringly emotional as Silver's "All My Friends," or as simply and heartfelt as its N.Y.C. tribute "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down," Murphy continues to expand as a songwriter and lyricist. He's still the master of deadly zingers ("Eat it Michael Musto/You're no Bruce Vilanch") and hilarious streams of lyrical gems (all of "Drunk Girls"), but songs like the nakedly emotional "I Can Change" (which includes the sweetly romantic plea for someone to "bore me and hold me and cling to my arm") and the insistently melancholy "Somebody's Calling Me" show continued growth and impressive range. Of course, if you aren't all that interested in lyrics, artistic growth, and feelings, you can just crank up songs like "One Touch," "Pow Wow," or "Home" real loud and dance. At heart, Murphy remains a dance music producer and these tracks reveal him at the top of his game. This Is Happening doesn't quite reach the monumental heights of Sound of Silver, but it serves as an almost-there companion and further proof that LCD Soundsystem is one of the most exciting and interesting bands around in the 2000s. ~ Tim Sendra
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (pp.67-68) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The longs songs reveal Murphy's bottom-line agenda: He's still a dance guy at heart, and he knows it's his job to ignite parties and dances."

Spin - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Murphy's high register breaks at the refrain of 'in love,' and it's the most emotionally devastating dance-floor moment since New Order's heyday."

Entertainment Weekly (p.74) - "The best inspiration should come with improvements, and Murphy's are vast." -- Grade: A

Alternative Press (p.107) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Here, he weaves all sorts of electronic distensions from robot disco to '80s synth-pop with a Brian Eno tribute thrown in."

Alternative Press (p.100) - Ranked #3 in Alternative Press's "10 Essential Albums of 2010" -- "[H]e gets down with everything from inspired synth-pop, to epic, pulsing club shakers..."

CMJ - "[T]hanks to a medley of driving rhythms, sharp guitar parts and electronic-based melodies, the music rarely drags."

Billboard (p.36) - "James Murphy is at his cynical best....Backed by colorful electronic textures, infectious basslines and futuristic rock melodies, the singer/producer conveys the hard truths of life over nine tracks..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.93) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "'Drunk Girls' crackles with its fists on the dancefloor like 'Boys Keep Swinging,' while 'All I Want' unravels with some Fripp-ish guitar work..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.52) - Ranked #36 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "[A] funeral pyre of dance beats, electronic noise, cowbell and rousing choruses."

Pitchfork (Website) - "On THIS IS HAPPENING, Murphy once again shows off his encyclopedic knowledge of all things post-punk and zip-tight. But he's also swimming up some serious stuff himself, including Eno and David Bowie's sacrosanct Berlin trilogy."

Clash (magazine) - "Suffused with an indefinable sense of melancholy, the likes of 'I Can Change,' 'Home' and 'Dance Yrself Clean' instill the rubbery electro with a tangible soul..."

Uncut (magazine) (p.82) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he highlight of the album' Change,' is a dead ringer for Eurythmics' 'Love Is a Stranger'."

Uncut (magazine) (p.36) - Ranked #9 in Uncut's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "[A] gleamingly jaded sequel to 2007's Uncut Album Of The Year, SOUND OF SILVER."
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