thu 18/07/2024

CD: LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions | reviews, news & interviews

CD: LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions

CD: LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions

James Murphy's post-punk disco outfit breathe new life into old favourites

Love gigs, hate crowds? We've got the album for you

Jimmy Hendix’s Greenwich Village studios are the venue for LCD Soundsystem’s third live album, which features the most recent touring line-up playing a set heavy with songs from 2017’s American Dream album along with a smattering of covers. 

Live albums often come with the promise of dynamic abandon – the chance to see a band communicating directly with their fans and pushing emotional dynamics and song structures to the limit, but here, in a closed studio, there’s none of that – so what is the point? 

The answer for most bands would be “not much”, but LCD Soundsystem aren’t most bands. Electric Lady Sessions swims in the clear open water between the studied, studio-based productions and the looser, live act that tours them, and provides a partner piece that is much more than mere curiosity. 

Without an audience to feed off and respond to, there are no lengthy, drawn-out excursions, but what we do get is the fuller sound and heavyweight harmony that a live take with a full band brings to Murphy’s beautifully constructed frameworks. 

“American Dream” is given a thrilling, three-dimensional boost, with a wider – and louder – soundscape. “Call the Police”, while retaining a little of its motoric pulse, has considerably more swing, more roll to the rock. This is largely down to Al Doyle’s guitar lines being granted more freedom in the room than they might get on the computer screen. 

“Emotional Haircut” meanwhile is blistering. The original combined elements of Talking Heads and the vital, visceral thrill of U2, before they got stuck in a mire of cloying sentiment and, on this version, nothing is dialed down, nothing is held back. The result is worth the price of entry alone. 

As for the cover versions, a reasonably faithful, if surprisingly beefy, take on The Human League’s “Seconds” is entertaining enough, while their reimagining of Chic’s “I Want Your Love” owes as much to Detroit house pioneer Moodymann as it does Nile Rogers’ outfit, which is to their eternal credit. 

Having started with the Human League, the decision to close with Heaven 17’s “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang”, gives an inspired, bookended sense of closure to a set that is pretty much perfectly placed throughout. There are few live albums that offer much in the way of ideas, but this one makes perfect sense.


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