Considering all the gigs I’ve seen…stretching back to New Order, Fleetwood Mac, the majesty of Sigur Ros, brassy wonder of David Byrne performing the Talking Heads archive or even Godfather of Funk James Brown…
…It’s nearly laughable that the moment I felt like my life had come even close to completing its musical pilgrimage, its odyssey- was the moment I heard James Murphy in the flesh wailing ‘Where Are Your Friends Tonight?’ as Lovebox 2016 drew to a close. At the centre of the barrier, busting for a piss because I’d been stood there all day, admittedly with tears in my eyes. Somewhat ironically, I screamed it with one of my best friends by my side. But I’d seen it. I’d heard the raw vocals, bass and the infamous shuffled piano line that had always meant so much.
I was there.
After witnessing icons of previous musical eras (all frankly incredible and humbling gigs), why was it that an artist who’d emerged in the noughties had got me closest to that state of fulfilment? I’d put it down to one phenomenal album – ‘Sound of Silver’.
At the beginning of LCD Soundsystem, professed 70s-rock geek James Murphy had protested about ‘losing his edge’ to post-modern teenagers, his fatigue of trying to keep up, grumbling they were late to the party- ‘I was the first one playing Daft Punk to the rock kids.’
But dismissing the first album as ‘a little beige, a little safe’, striving for silver seemed the next logical step.
It was still about aging, about losing what used to seem like it was everything. But ‘Sound of Silver’ remains LCD’s defining moment. It was when LCD went from feeling a bit drawn-out, defined by the singles, to an established, slick, cohesive dance album that was pop but indie, funky but emotive whilst still resisting typical dance production. It wasn’t over-compressed to the point of tinny. Murphy’s 70s love leaked right through with his noble return to analogue technology.
And it had all started in a farmhouse, in a room lined with tin foil- like a child’s homemade spaceship. Apparently, the first recording had sounded ‘too woody’ without.
That’s how it starts.
James Murphy wanted ‘Sound of Silver’ to resist what he called the ‘bad poetry’ of rock- big, unspecific lyrics, and he certainly achieved that. Lyrics about North Americans being mistaken for English, about being mildly irritated by nice weather and coffee whilst grieving, about wanting to be taken off a mailing list.
And the lyrics seemed to resonate with everyone- so much so; the album received rave reviews from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME and the Guardian.
…But not to faze Murphy. “I think that not being all that overwhelmed by good reviews is a luxury,” he said. “I’m like a rich person who says he doesn’t care about money.”
Sometimes silver is better than gold.