I made no bones about my feelings that the debut self-titled album from LCD Soundsystem was overrated. I picked it up after reading a slew of positive critiques, but there was something about it that left me feeling a bit empty, as if it simply didn't live up to the promise. In essence, there were some great ideas, but they were repeated too often and in other places not really fulfilled, and several years later really only find myself listening to the bonus disc of collected singles.
When Sound Of Silver started getting similar raves, I wondered if I'd again feel the same way, but eventually decided to take another chance on James Murphy and his gang of analogue androids, and I'm glad that I did. Like the best of his singles from the bonus disc of his first release ("Yeah," "Losing My Edge"), the songs on this new release realize their full potential nearly all the time, swerving with his the fun dance groove that he's honed so well over the years while throwing a couple curves into the mix as well.
"Get Innocuous!" opens the release and it's familiar and new at the same time. Opening with hiss-covered beat cracks that actually move in a similar way to "Losing My Edge," the song piles on layer after layer until reverbed vocals from Murphy are snaking through the synth-driven mix and some light female vocals give it a pop edge that can't be denied. "Time To Get Away" finds Murphy busting out into his white-boy electro funk mode, but it's tighter than similar tracks have been in the past, with sparse production that's highlighted by over-the-top vocals, dry guitars, and some playful clavinet sections.
From there, the album changes directions several times and nearly always does so while hitting stride. "Someone Great" is one of the best songs on the entire release, with heavy, dense layers of analogue pads and more thoughtful lyrics and vocals from Murphy, while "All My Friends" is seriously 80s pop inspired, with repeated piano refrains, a thin rhythm section, and more vocals that sound less wink-wink nudge-nudge than usual tracks from the group.
The points where the album is at its weakest are also where things are most over the top. "North American Scum" and "Watch The Tapes" both pump things up into frantic electro-rock with loud choruses, but the hooks are much more obvious and the result are tracks that don't have quite the staying power as the more building and subtle others. The Eno-inspired title track "Sound Of Silver" is another highlight, drifting off into weird ambience and space funk, while the album closer "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down" is all lounge ballad, with just the perfect amount of sly humor and longing. In the end, the nine songs and fifty-five minutes of Sound Of Silver find LCD Soundsystem really hitting a stride. It's no less playful, but at the same time it's more focused and varied. This is one I'm glad I gave a chance.