"The new album is seriously almost done!"
East Williamsburg’s new venue Brooklyn Steel opened with a bang last night (April 6), thanks to Brooklyn’s most beloved band, LCD Soundsystem. It was the first of a sold-out five-night residency at the venue, and fans were treated to the live debut of the first new LCD Soundsystem songs since 2010’s ‘This is Happening’ (excepting 2015’s ‘Christmas Will Break Your Heart’).
The James Murphy-led collective reunited last year for a huge festival run across the world, and didn’t play a single new song across those 33 shows – but last night the writing was quite literally on the wall. “Please don’t film the new songs,” a note plastered all over the venue read. “It’d be a real gut-punch to all the people who have been working insanely hard for the last 18 months to release this music in the way we want to release it.”
As with every LCD festival set this past year, the band opened with ‘Sound of Silver’’s upbeat ‘Us v Them’ – featuring the loaded lyric “the time has come.” The crowd immediately went wild, and immediately afterwards, James Murphy reiterated the message from the signs posted all over the venue: “Hello everybody: let’s have chat time. You can put your phones down. What’s going to happen is we’re going to play songs that you know and songs that are new. To be real clear, thanks for the enthusiasm… But we’re going to ask that you seriously put your phones away.”
Seconds after the conclusion of a heavy ‘Daft Punk is Playing at My House’, the night’s second song, Murphy proved that he meant what he said before, calling out two people who were filming. “OK, I’m sorry to make this school time, you two with your fucking phones,” Murphy said, speaking directly to the pair. “We’re not going to play new songs if you don’t. Stop being a fucking tool.”
His message seemed to work – the rest of the show went off without a hitch, excluding some technical issues with keyboardist Nancy Whang’s set-up. The setlist didn’t vary at all from the one they played throughout festival season last year, prompting some to assume the promise of new songs was a giant prank. But just before ‘This Is Happening’’s final track ‘Home’, Murphy explained, “We’re going to play two songs and then we’re going to stare at each other for five minutes and then come out and play new songs.”
And then, when the nine-piece band walked back out after the encore, they delivered the moment everyone that had once seemed impossible – LCD Soundsystem debuted not one, not two, but three new songs. “To be clear, these are new songs; we just learned them,” Murphy said before launching into the first. “The new album is seriously almost done… Here’s a song you don’t know!”
The first, possibly called ‘Tonight’, began with a heavy drumbeat that gave way to a techno-inspired synth line. Taking the piss out of modern music, it runs “Everybody’s singing the same song / It’s all tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight.” It’s a wordy, upbeat track – vocally slightly similar to ‘Pow Pow’ – though on this one, warm synths surround a classic LCD “ooh” refrain. “You lost your internet but we lost our memories,” he sings at one point, occasionally looking at a lyric sheet set on Mahoney’s drum kit. “You hate the idea that you’re wasting your youth / But that’s all lies,” he croons later on. The track eventually grows in intensity only to end abruptly.
The second new one, ‘Call Police,’ is maybe the most straightforward rock song LCD has ever written, reminiscent of a somewhat more upbeat take on Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ or even The Smiths’ ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’. Midtempo and guitar heavy, this one is for people who wanted another song like ‘All My Friends’. It was tougher to decipher Murphy’s lyrics here, though he does repeat the line “this is nowhere” multiple times. “We played it like six times faster than in soundcheck,” Murphy added after the song’s end.
‘American Dream’, the final new song, is without a doubt Murphy’s most confessional song to date. It’s a downbeat one, full of slow burning synths, xylophones, and a wicked sense of humour. “Wake up with somebody near you in someone else’s place / You did acid and looked in the mirror / Watched the mirror crawl around on your face,” Murphy sings at the start. As it grapples with the reality of growing older, the song continues: “In the morning, everything’s clearer when the sunlight exposes your age / But that’s OK,” later adding the lines, “So get up and stop your complaining / You know you’re the only one who’s been destroying all the fun.” The final chorus features Murphy’s falsetto and robotic backup vocals.
The final two songs of the night were an irresistible one-two punch – fan-favorites ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ and ‘All My Friends’ – and the crowd, stunned by the three new songs, awoke from their slumber to form moshpits, crowdsurf, and scream along to every word.
LCD Soundsystem played:
‘Us v Them’
‘Daft Punk Is Playing at My House’
‘I Can Change’
‘You Wanted a Hit’
‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’
‘Dance Yrself Clean’
‘All My Friends’