Album Review: The London Sessions by LCD Soundsystem
Great, Based on 7 Critics
Pitchfork - 82 Based on rating 8.2/10
For a group whose albums often seem like work of one studio-perfectionist mastermind, LCD Soundsystem have turned out to be one of the greatest live bands of the last decade. In fact, they do just about everything a great live band-- especially a great live dance band-- should do. Known to stretch their songs out to "special disco version" lengths, they're able to bring audiences from simmering anticipation to hands-up screaming release in the span of a song, and then do it again.
In the midst of their 2010 world tour, LCD Soundsystem stopped off at Miloco Studios to record their live set. Utilizing a full band with skills honed to a fine point by the road, the resulting album is incredibly focused and powerful. Both the band and frontman James Murphy are at the top of their considerable games as they motor through what could almost be a "greatest hits of LCD" set (minus a few choice tracks like "Losing My Edge" and "North American Scum").
LCD Soundsystem - London Sessions LCD Soundsystem - London Sessions (EMI/DFA) Rating: NNNN I see why some might consider this live-in-the-studio album just another way for James Murphy to milk a few more dollars from his fans before LCD Soundsystem play their final retirement gig April 2. But I'd argue that this is an essential missing link in the LCD Soundsystem story and just as important as any of their proper studio records. Music nerds like Murphy have long appreciated the John Peel Sessions for the revealing honesty they forced on bands, so of course he'd want something in that vein for his catalogue.
It’s becoming increasingly rare to find bands that can excel in the studio and also shine onstage. More often than not, the performers who rely too heavily on production alchemy end up with material that is too overly complicated and/or polished to translate well in a live setting. But every now and then exceptions emerge, and LCD Soundsystem is a case in point.
Who would have predicted this: LCD Soundsystem, a one-man dance music project, has, over the course of five years, evolved into one of the most reliably entertaining live acts in all of music. Performing as a seven-piece, LCD Soundsystem have cut a wide swath on their never-ending tours, hitting Europe and all of North America, with ecstatically reviewed festival dates in between. I’m sure James Murphy never saw that coming, or that LCD Soundsystem, originally the band of killer singles like “Losing My Edge,” would release a live studio album.
For the most part, I’ve got almost no need for live albums. Sure, I loved the White Stripes’ offering from the Great White North, and Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night has a special place in the cockles of my heart, but most live albums leave me feeling one of two ways: 1) Commenting how great the LP sounds, but how much I’d rather hear the artist/band with all the tools in their bag courtesy of studio time or 2) that if I wanted to feel the true impact of live songs, I’d just wait ’til they came to town. Amongst other notions I previously held, LCD Soundsystem have done away with that archaic look at the live album with The London Sessions.
While most dance acts thrive on the dizziness and delight of the moment, [a]LCD Soundsystem[/a] benefit from the stark spotlight of a trapped-in-amber ‘live in the studio’ album: clarity, purity, the chance to study the craftsman’s tiniest taps. With his finest tracks lasso’d together, you can notice the immaculate progression of [b]James Murphy[/b], from the way the scratchy early disco dabbling of ‘[a]Daft Punk[/a]…’ has been polished and refined into a barrage of laser-guided bursts from the first ever Korg equipped with a death ray, to [b]‘I Can Change’[/b], a classic [a]Scott Walker[/a] croon crammed through [a]Gary Numan[/a]’s iciest synths. If this album and tour really were the end of LCD, at least we can say, “we were there…”[b]Mark Beaumont[/b]Click here to get your copy of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘The London Sessions’ from Amazon.