Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dance-punk: who’s the daddy?


Back in 2002 when James Murphy unleashed his first sneery-groovy LCD Soundsystem single, “Losing My Edge”, and at least three members of !!! were in a band called Out Hud who sounded like they might be capable of reinventing the dance-punk wheel, hopes were high for rock’s return to the dancefloor. Now, New York trend thermostat Other Music reports that ‘beardos’ outnumber ‘angular haircuts’ 3-1 in the city. The Rapture’s “Pieces Of People We Love” album has stalled and the furiously reproducing hot house of the UK indie disco is looking like running away with New York’s dance-punk crown.

Two records released this month might have a thing or two to say about that, though. Firstly there’s !!!’s “Myth Takes”, in many ways their most accomplished album yet. But here’s the problem. The more they attempt to clip the wings of their sprawling jam-band funk and turn out disciplined songs, the harder it is to like what !!! do. Live they can be sensational as they seamlessly wash cathedrals of guitar into breakouts of pure rhythmic bliss, building and releasing tension. That’s the formula that made Out Hud’s “S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D.” LP so good and it’s why !!!’s Warp debut 12” “Me And Giuliani…” remains their most essential moment. We’ll still drag ourselves through fields of mud to see their live act this summer but “Myth Takes” could happily be edited down to a four-track EP.

James Murphy’s the daddy though, right? His second LCD Soundsystem album, “Sound Of Silver”, makes the first one sound like a collection of dance 12”s padded out with a few off-cuts and b-sides. That’s to say, it’s an album in the cohesive, ‘rockist’ sense. If not as thrilling and covetable as tracks like “Beat Connection”, “Yeah” or “Losing My Edge” - all of which demand to be owned on 12” vinyl the moment you hear them – this set has an identity beyond the party. And, that’s what the guardians of rock are looking for isn’t? And, in fairness, that’s what makes for a satisfying album whilst ever the album remains a meaningful format.

From the opening “Losing My Edge”-style pulses of relentless, brainy club banger “Get Innocuous!”, through to the ambitious seven-minute motorik of “All My Friends” it’s clear that Murphy has stepped his game up to another level. “Someone Great” is surely the first disco track to approach the subject of bereavement with its heart so touchingly on sleeve and the title track is wonderful; the axis at which Manuel Göttsching meets Liquid Liquid and Claro Intelecto. Until The Klaxons, Metronomy, Joakim, NYPC, Simian Mobile Disco - Hot Chip, even – approach this level of accomplishment, Europe may have stolen the energy but New York still has the daddy.

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