At the turn of the millennium, it seemed unlikely that an aging record nerd hollering about his favorite bands could possibly become the vessel for an entire angst-ridden generation—but that was before we had Sound of Silver. When James Murphy released his second full-length as LCD Soundsystem 10 years ago, he revealed the deeply sentimental roots behind all the dance-punk chic, the hopelessly melancholic critic who, no matter how many albums he might amass in his enormous collection, still can’t escape the simple truths of getting older and saying goodbye to all your friends. Though their short-lived retirement is now over, with the arrival of their first new album in seven years, it wouldn’t be LCD Soundsystem without gazing longingly towards the past. So we’ve taken the occasion to unpack James Murphy’s shining moment, the weepy behemoth of a dance record that is Sound of Silver.
Murphy’s influences are as vast as they are easily traceable (all one has to do is look up the lyrics to the climactic band-listing outburst of “Losing My Edge”), yet the real magic of the album is how confidently it inhabits its own skin, effortlessly mixing the mechanic rhythms of Kraftwerk, the starry-eyed synth-punk of New Order, and the reckless rock worship of Lou Reed into something as comfortable in the club as it is at home on a turntable. Its endlessly looping electronics nod to the simple majesty of Detroit techno as well as the prickly brain-funk of the Talking Heads, yet what’s fascinating about Murphy is the way that he turns his love of these disparate artists into his own defining quality. LCD Soundsystem is a band of fanboys and fangirls playing for devotees of their own, celebrating the act of loving music and creating something entirely theirs in the process. Sound of Silver was the moment where Murphy’s band ceased to be a loving tribute to the many shapes of punk and New Wave, and became a fully-armed dance unit for the 21st century. Without further ado, we present our mix of the many sounds the fuelled one of our era’s most distinguishing voices.