It's probably needless to say that a lot of people have been expecting the debut from LCD Soundsystem for some time now. With main man James Murphy behind the knob-twiddling on a whole slew of DFA-related singles, as well as a bunch of infectious singles as LCD Soundsystem, the hype level has certainly been built up and now the actual debut release is here for better or worse.
At its best, the release is a raucous ride through disco-influenced dance punk that works just about as well as anything in the past couple years (when the genre seemingly has been flooded with bands just trying to get a lick), and at its worst the release is simply average, sounding like so many groups I mentioned above. Heck, 4 years ago this release would have sounded like a kick in the shorts, but now the actual release sounds good, but not great.
Most of your tolerance for the release will be based on your tolerance for semi-schlockey rock music that thumps along with dance beats created from old drum machine sounds and often silly lyrics that don't mean much of anything. "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" is fine as an album opener and a nod to the French house auteurs, but musically the rubbery bassline, cowbell clunks, and repetitive hand-clapping beat don't exactly tread new ground. Likewise, the somewhat hilarious (but probably overlong) "On Repeat" spits out electro bloops and old-school synth gurgles over another tamborine beat that sounds like another 80s throwback while Murphy spits out sometimes over-the-top vocals and mutterings that wear a bit thin.
On the other side of things, tracks that take a slightly different direction are often the ones that stand out the most. "Too Much Love" keeps the rhythmic elements fairly simple and standard, but the almost cold vocal intonation and icy synths move the track into a slick territory that is both infectious and something that sticks out. Not only that, but the track rocks a wicked cowbell. Even the cheeseball "Disco Infiltrator" finds Murphy spitting out vocal stylings that seem to fit the grimy house instrumentation a little better than some of the earlier entries on the release (imagine Jon Spencer versus thumping post-disco sleaze).
In some ways, the release is validated almost completely by the inclusion of a bonus disc that includes all previous singles from LCD Soundsystem, most of which feel more thought-out and slamming than much of what resides on the album itself. "Losing My Edge" is a slow-building rant on the advance of youth culture that turns into a stomping dancefloor cut while "Yr City's A Sucker" is a bizarro, shambling electro-trip through hazy acid squiggles and yes, more cowbell. The respective remixes of "Yeah" (Crass and Pretentious version) provide over 20 minutes of fun that are almost worth the sticker price alone (for those that don't already own the singles). All in all, this debut is a somewhat scattershod affair, but combined with the bonus disc of tracks makes for a 100-minute romp through the minds of one of the more inventive producers of the day. When he's on, Murphy can hardly be touched, and even when he's not it's still often good for a chuckle.