The London Sessions

by: LCD Soundsystem

In the midst of their 2010 world tour, LCD Soundsystem stopped off at Miloco Studios to record their live set. Utilizing a full band with skills honed to a fine point by the road, the resulting album is incredibly focused and powerful. Both the band and frontman James Murphy are at the top of their considerable games as they motor through what could almost be a "greatest hits of LCD" set (minus a few choice tracks like "Losing My Edge" and "North American Scum"). Highlights are rambunctious charges though "Daft Punk" and "Drunk Girls," the lovely Eno-inspired "All I Want," a forcefully funky take on "Pow Pow," and a stuttering "Us v Them." Since Murphy creates the Soundsystem's records mostly by himself, it’s very interesting (and impressive) to hear how the band takes the precise studio sound of the albums and makes it come alive. Everything that makes LCD so impressive is captured on London Sessions and then some. The propulsive beats of the locked-in rhythm section of Tyler Pope on bass and Pat Mahoney on drums, the complex and funky interplay of the guitarists (Matthew Thornley and David Scott Stone), and the keyboard manipulations of Nancy Whang and Gavin Russom (on what looks like enough vintage electronics to launch an early Apollo rocket) are equal to the studio albums. The group vocals that back Murphy, both chanted and sung in doo wop harmonies, are quite different than the usual LCD approach and help to humanize the sound even more than usual. When you put Murphy’s unusually elastic and inspired vocals, which range from insistent to hilarious, on top of the band’s sound, you’ve got the 2000s equivalent of Talking Heads when they expanded the group and became a huge force of oddball funk. It’s a more intense and synthesized version, and Murphy is no David Byrne (since he’s more likely to be in a dirty T-shirt than a big suit), but this wouldn’t work half as well if he were. His hopped-up hipster everyman with a bruised heart style is perfect for the band’s small-club intensity, and the album leaps out of the speakers with an intense power that makes it more than just a commemoration of their 2010 tour; it’s a vital addition to their already near-perfect catalog. It’s also more proof that LCD Soundsystem just might be the best band of the decade. ~ Tim Sendra

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