The years go on, I get older and older, but still some things never change – and these are generally the things I truly love. I still go to watch Ross County win, draw or lose or lose; I still drink Coca-Cola by the gallon; and I still play LCD Soundsystem songs over and over again.
It’s four years now since my favourite band played out their swansongs on the hallowed stage at Madison Square Garden, and even though their most recent album is now five years old and the lyrics and melodies of their tracks are ingrained as much in my head as any ever could, there’s still something refreshing and new about coming across them in my expanding and changing music library. My life’s very different now from what it was four years ago but still these songs are a touchstone for any sort of mood or emotion I go.
So to celebrate the fourth anniversary of their crescendo, I thought I’d share ten of the best that LCD had to offer across their all-too-short lifespan:
Freak Out/Starry Eyes (45:33)
In true LCD fashion, let’s kick off the list with a song that lasts upwards of 12 minutes. This gem is tucked away on the EP that was released along with their mammoth dance-orchestra that is 45:33, and although when played live on that fateful night at MSG it nestled in nicely alongside it, I’m glad they kept it separate here. It’s a funky tune that transitions beautifully between two very different but still inextricably linked melodies that are fantastic separately but compliment each other well at the same time.
Daft Punk is Playing at my House (LCD Soundsystem)
Any time there is an opportunity to introduce someone to LCD Soundsystem, this is the song I go for. It’s easily one of their most poppy, being fun, dancey, relatively unrepetitive and has plenty of the signature cowbell too! As an intro to a band that does almost everything under the sun it might be a little plain, but as a way of gently easing someone into the wealth that is their albums I think it does just fine.
Us v Them (Sound of Silver)
While most of this list will be among the most popular songs from the band, “Us v Them” is one that I feel is often overlooked. Lumped in the middle of what I believe are three or four of my favourite songs of all time in the middle of the epic Sound of Silver it doesn’t get the due it deserves. It’s tremendous drum driven energy pounds along with the sing-song lyrics to create a brilliant tune altogether – with little moments through it that capture your imagination, like when the cowbell comes in or when the bass takes over.
Someone Great (Sound of Silver)
In some ways “Someone Great” is LCD’s signature song, in that when you hear the xylophone melody and the throbbing, bassy synths that drive the song you’ll likely recognise them from somewhere, but while the happy and cheerful tune keeps going – you’ll come to find that this is one of the most despair-full songs they have to offer. No-one knows what the song is about, James Murphy (the band’s centrepiece) has never said, but the lyrics are most definitely about losing someone close, and maybe even a child. The xylophone rings immensely true no matter what, and as a song of grief it’s just about perfect.
Home (This is Happening)
“Home” is the final song on LCD’s final album, and it sounds like it almost the whole way through. It’s understated, with the slow, subdued clacking melody allowing you to have a little move but also focus on the final words of wisdom that Murphy tries to pass on. It takes its time to get into things, but then it’s really something special. It’s hard to describe the way in which it impacts you, with its sense of impending finality and a sort of reassuring but yet sombrely bleak lyrics, but it does have a habit of really striking a certain tone no matter when you hear it.
Yeah (Crass Version) (LCD Soundsystem)
An acquired taste I’m sure but “Yeah” is the zenith of the dancey side of LCD and it’s tour-de-force style is unparalleled by any other song I can think of. It repeats the word Yeah well over 400 times during the song, with a few verses cutting in here and there to add a bit of context and give a little break to the relentless pace of the song. It builds a lot, but unlike other LCD songs it keeps on going into the realm of EDM at times, which is massively refreshing and perfect for an energetic party or just to give you a bit of a lift through the day.
Dance Yrself Clean (This is Happening)
As a full range of what the band, or perhaps any band, can do – this song showcases so much that it makes the 9 minutes or so that it lasts for sound so much shorter. From the softly spoken intro you might not expect the emotional rollercoaster yet to come but then you have a massive explosion of drums and a deep and dark synth that underscores a song about great pain in a way that you’ll never forget. As an opening to what was their final album, it was about as powerful as any piece of music could ever be, and you’ll never forget the first time you heard it.
Get Innocuous! (Sound of Silver)
The song that introduced me to the band, I’ll never forget first hearing it on an advert for GTA IV and being mesmerised by the building tune in the background. I’d never heard a song that did so much layering and a sort of prep work before the actual song kicked in properly (although “Blue Monday” did it about twenty years before), and that was something that grabbed me about LCD Soundsystem a lot. Hearing the instruments come in and get their own little intro made it all the more special when everything worked together in concert later on in the song – and then more special still when they cut away to the vocals of the chorus. Then it all winds down again with violins and everything. It’s a masterpiece of James Murphy’s musical arrangement genius and a fantastic song that’ll always be pretty special to me.
Losing My Edge (LCD Soundsystem)
The song that started it all for LCD Soundsystem was “Losing My Edge”. It was Murphy’s ironic jab at the New York DJ scene he was at the forefront of as well as a self-effacing critique of him getting older – and as a basis for kicking off a band it worked surprisingly well. Losing My Edge is a pretty simple song, but it gets its charm from the sing-speak lyrics that are every bit as pretentious as they are funny. The basic 808 drum machine in the background is broken every now and again by guitars and drums that bookmark Murphy’s little rants, and there’s something great about the way it all fits together that’s tough to explain. You can dance to it, you can sit and sing it, you can listen to it – all at once, or all separately – but any way you cut it you’ll enjoy listening to it for a unique sort of reason.
All My Friends (Sound of Silver)
It’s my favourite song of all time, so naturally it makes the top of this list. Ever since I first heard it I knew it was the sort of song that would stick with you, and the meaning of it would hit home just as hard every time you hear it. It’s a song about growing up and missing the things you’ve left behind, but trying to enjoy the moment all the same. The repetitive beat in the background keeps a running metronome that builds and builds without you realising before the final verse just echoes with built-up emotion and tension – a musical metaphor for life perhaps? This is the pinnacle of LCD Soundsystem’s songcraft, doing the things that they became known for all so well in one track. I’ll always love this song, and this band, so here it is: