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LCD Soundsystem Podcast

Max Siegel talks about the highlights of LCD Soundsystem's new album, "This Is Happening."

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LCD Soundsystem return with their third and reportedly final album. It's difficult to categorize the band's genre, but one thing listeners can agree on is that their songs consistently surprise and delight. This is Happening represents a continuation of the material frontman James Murphy perfected in Sound of Silver.

Murphy's lyrics and crisp production are, as always, a pleasure to listen to, but there are more downtrodden tracks in the vein of "Someone Great." "Dance Yrself Clean," the album's first - and best - track, is a perfect marriage of an artist's exuberance and exhaustion. "Walking up to me/expecting words," Murphy sighs, speaking so softly that we can barely hear him. And then the song kicks into high gear with ferocious synths. The DJ may be tired of it, but he's sure taking us for a hell of a ride.

While LCD Soundsystem have been delving into more serious material, they have also hung on, somewhat incongruously, to their self-aware and cheeky older style. Some of their beats just don't feel that fresh anymore. "Pow Pow" is one of the band's worst tracks, with a repetitive refrain that's bound to drive listeners crazy. "Drunk Girls" features hilarious, biting lyrics, but it's basically a rehash of "North American Scum" on Sound of Silver.

At its best, This is Happening seems to fly through its one-hour duration. Like Sound of Silver, many of the songs start with a simple idea - say, a beat - and gradually form into full-fledged works. "Honestly, we're never smart/ We fake it, we fake it all the time," Murphy admits during the gorgeous "You Wanted a Hit." And so it is with this album, which inexplicably runs out of steam during its last three songs. A bit of a disappointment, considering that the end really is happening.

-Max Siegel

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