LCD Soundsystem: Shut Up And Play The Hits
The heartfelt tale of James Murphy's decision to call it quits
It starts, appropriately enough, at the end, with the feedback reverberating from the final song of the final LCD Soundsystem show as roadies pack away the band’s gear for the very last time. Then we jump forward to James Murphy, alone and hungover, the morning after the very public retirement of his band at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2011.
What emerges in these scenes, and the days and hours before the show, is not a conventional documentary. There’s no band biography. No talking heads spouting anecdotes. Just the story of James Murphy’s decision, as American comedian Stephen Colbert put it in the frontman’s last TV interview, to “walk away from fame”. Murphy is still not sure it’s the right decision. He tells American journalist Chuck Klosterman that he worries he’s quitting because he’s scared of failing, but knows he has to stop because touring is ageing him. It’s the same fear outlined in the first LCD Soundsystem single, ‘Losing My Edge’, which Murphy describes as “as serious as a heart attack”, despite the track’s humour. For three hours onstage at Madison Square Garden he sings the smartest songs of the last decade, then crumples up the lyric sheets and tosses them away. He cries during ‘Someone Great’. Fans weep at the finale. Murphy’s breakdown comes the next day, contemplating the gear waiting to be sold. A life in boxes.
If the film has a flaw, it’s the singer’s interview with Klosterman, whose grand theories confuse Murphy’s motives rather than clarify them. But you’ll get it, because this isn’t just a film about LCD. It’s for anyone who’s woken up feeling older than yesterday, and questioned what they’re doing with their lives. The human condition never sounded so good.
Kevin EG Perry