Monday, September 7, 2015

Looking Back at LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver

I didn't really 'get' dance music as a teenager. Sure, I enjoyed hearing the odd snatch of Darude's Sandstorm at parties, but my adolescence was an era during which most of my proper music listening was done alone, either on the stereo in my bedroom or via headphones while out for a walk. Dance music was party music, and so I never paid it that much attention; I preferred music that meant things, songs that made you feel things, and as far as I was concerned, the only ambition of this entire genre was to serve as background music for dancing, drinking, and shagging (none of which numbered among my favourite pastimes, at least not until I went to university).

LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver was the album that showed me the error of my assumptions. I purchased it around the end of 2007, having noticed it near the top of practically every 'Albums of the Year' list I encountered, and it instantly proved to me that dance music could mean things and make you feel things (whilst still serving as a perfectly serviceable soundtrack for dancing, drinking, and shagging). James Murphy knew his way around a beat, for sure, but he also knew how to write seriously amazing songs: funny songs with attitude like North American Scum and Time to Get Away, and beautiful, emotive songs like All My Friends and Someone Great.

Humour and emotion. Those two attributes are central to so much of my favourite music, and they're two things I never thought I'd find in HMV's 'Dance' section. For sixteen-year-old Joel, Sound of Silver was a revelation; he could feel all cool and edgy whilst singing along with Time to Get Away, he could feel wild and unhinged whilst listening to Watch the Tapes, and he could pretend he was cynical and jaded and grown-up whilst wondering what NYC had done to warrant New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down.

And, unlike so much of the stuff that spoke to me when I was in secondary school, Sound of Silver still resonates now that I'm 24. Sound of Silver is the obvious example - look at me now, looking back on what it was like to be a "real-live emotional teenager" - but there's also All My Friends, which should probably be kept in a box marked, 'Do Not Open Until You've Grown Up And, Feeling Wistfully Nostalgic, Find Yourself Trying To Recapture Your Youth': 

"You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again." 

Sound of Silver always sounded kinda futuristic (the spacey, metallic-looking cover art probably helped in that department), but I'm realising now that it was also future-proof; no matter when you first heard it, no matter what year it was or how old you were, you'll come back to it several years later and realise that James Murphy is singing about you, now, revisiting the past and pining away for your younger days like some sad old fool with a face like a dad and a laughable stand.

Perhaps that's what he was always singing about?

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