This is Happening
Coming on the heels of the universally acclaimed Sound of Silver, This is Happening had mighty big shoes to fill. But rather than filling them, James Murphy (the producer/musician/vocalist behind LCD Soundsystem) decided to trade them in for some black Chuck Taylors or whatever those post-punk kids were wearing in the late '70s and early '80s. I'm about 12 listens into the album, and the post-punk/art-rock/new-wavy influences have become impossible to ignore. The album is packed with Brian Eno/Frippertronic guitar solos ("Drunk Girls"), early Talking Heads percussion, driving disco beat and African-sounding guitars ("Home"), massive Gary Numan-esque synth strings ("I Can Change") and Bowie-like (really, Eno again) guitar hooks ("All I Want").
But This is Happening is no mere mimic of that evolutionary era of modern rock music because Murphy has somehow made those signature sounds his own. Modern dance beats emotionally vulnerable lyrics and post-modern synth leads that at times meander off (thus thrashing the melody) are all imprints of the modern age. This is a far cry from the relatively conventional rock structures and robot-like emotional distance of much of the original post-punk movement. The overall message here is that James is trying to create something with this album, rather than to deconstruct.
But really, however much there is to ponder about what's going on in these tracks, you're most likely going to want to get up and shake your booty. In fact, you might want to just shimmy to a downtown record store while you still can, because Murphy has indicated that This is Happening is likely to be the last release from his already legendary project. - Scott Aycock
Scott Aycock is a host, with J.J. and Lynn, of Variable Velocity, a weekly "indie" music show on KPOV 106.7 and www.kpov.org Fridays from 6-8pm.