Song of the Day: LCD Soundsystem “tonite”
Since the 2002 debut single, “Losing My Edge,” which name-checked seemingly every important musical moment of the modern era, James Murphy has been completely self-aware of his insider/outsider status, like the obsessive record collector who defines him/herself by their collection. Only Murphy turned his record collection into LCD Soundsystem, a band that both revered and rivaled its many influences (Talking Heads, Public Image Ltd., David Bowie, The Fall, Arthur Baker, and a vast collection of vintage disco and house 12″ singles). The world was let in on the joke, and enthusiastically accepted the invitation to the brainy, literate downtown dance-punk party that culminated in an unprecedented four-night farewell concert series at Madison Square Garden in April 2011.
After just three albums, though, the LCD story didn’t feel complete. Even after all the ‘getting out while we still can’ statements, clearly Murphy still had something to say. Hence American Dream, the just-released fourth LCD Soundsystem record. “tonite” [e.e. cummings-style lowercase song titling is deliberate] is one of three album tracks pre-released simultaneously and is the one aimed squarely at the dance floor, an undeniable electro-disco groove pulses while the now-47 year old Murphy returns to his now-familiar theme of admonishing and acknowledging the concept of the aging hipster holding on to something:
You hate the idea that you’re wasting your youth
but you stood in the background until you got older
But that’s all lies
Much has been made of Murphy’s late-period friendship and subsequent collaborations with the late David Bowie (Murphy played percussion on several tracks on Bowie’s final album, Black Star), who encouraged him to get “uncomfortable.” In that discomfort, LCD Soundsystem re-emerged as strong as ever. And in an era where so many videos are seen as opportunities to make short films, it is both refreshing and exciting to see the band simply performing “tonite” on a rotating stage while Murphy (in oversized field recording headphones) very appropriately keeps pace and eye contact with the camera.