They got their start in 2002 when Murphy released a handful of singles that got decent radio airplay on underground stations. After these successes he got a few musicians to collaborate with him, wrote a Self-Titled Album and LCD Soundsystem was born. Then, in 2007 Sound of Silver was released to critical acclaim, appearing on many year-end and decade-end album charts. Then finally Murphy announced a possible end to the project, with a "final" album titled This Is Happening being released. Once again, the critics drooled and the album found itself on more lists. Their Out with a Bang final concert, which among other extravagances had the highly influential 80's Post-Punk band Liquid Liquid as an opening act and the Arcade Fire singing backup vocals, proved to everyone that James Murphy was actually ending the project (at least, for the foreseeable future).
Their music is part of the movement in indie music known as "Dance-Punk". However, they are probably one of the bands that come closer to the "dance" side of that subgenre than with the "punk" aspect. Strangely, despite Murphy's vocals lacking the snarl of the other artists in the subgenre, it still works and qualifies.
Murphy writes ninety percent of the music himself but normally brings in "guest" musicians to play everything out during recording. Every now and then he records on his own as well, pulling off an I Am the Band image. He's seen on stage with his fellow colleagues as well as by himself with just his synthesizer, so whether or not those other people are considered "part of the band" still sparks debate between fans.
The band is known for Murphy's distinctive voice as well as the clever wordplay involved in their lyrics ("Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut / It comes back but it's never the same," for example).
LCD Soundsystem's best-known songs are "All My Friends", "Losing My Edge", "North American Scum", "Drunk Girls", "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down", and "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House".
At the tail end of 2015, LCD Soundsystem suddenly released a Christmas song, "Christmas Will Break Your Heart" to the delighted surprise of the fanbase. Before we knew it, LCD Soundsystem was announced as a headliner for Coachella 2016, with a tour and a new record, American Dream, released in 2017. James Murphy went into more detail in this blog entry.
- LCD Soundsystem (2005)
- Sound of Silver (2007)
- This Is Happening (2010)
- American Dream (2017)
EPs, Live Albums, and Remix Albums
- Introns (Remix album, 2006)
- 45:33 EP (2006)
- A Bunch of Stuff (Remix EP, 2007)
- Confuse the Marketplace EP (2007)
- 45:33 Remixes (Remix album, 2009)
- The London Sessions (Live album, 2010)
- The Long Goodbye (Live album, 2014)
- Electric Lady Sessions (Live album, 2019)
These following tropes are losing their edge:
- Album Title Drop:
- "Sound of silver, talk to me" in the title track to Sound of Silver.
- Shockingly, American Dream also has a title drop in its title track, "American Dream".
- Aluminum Christmas Trees:
- Fact Magazine ("Pow Pow") exists and is not just an ironic figure to state obvious facts.
- Despite all the outlandish claims in "Losing My Edge", one is actually true: James Murphy really was one of the first New York DJs to play Daft Punk in his sets at rock clubs like CBGBs in the late 1990s.
- Audience Participation Song: "All My Friends," "Us V Them," "Watch the Tapes," among others.
- Boléro Effect: Quite often, but notably "North American Scum."
- Both "Dance Yrself Clean" and "Home", the first and last songs on This Is Happening, have the same "ah-ahh, ah-ah" vocalization.
- A much more meta example also comes from "Home", the Grand Finale of This Is Happening and (for a time) the project itself, which deliberately shares the same bassline as "Losing My Edge", the group's first single.
- Broken Record: Several.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: The self-titled album, with "Too Much Love" and "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up" between a number of high-powered uplifting dance songs.
- Control Freak: Murphy by all accounts. Luke Jenner of DFA band The Rapture recounted how Murphy would not only make them use specific synthesizers, but also made them go to the same therapist he went to.
- Cover Version:
- "Bye Bye Bayou," originally by Alan Vega of Suicide, recorded for Record Store Day.
- The Harry Nilsson song "Jump Into the Fire" was frequently played as an encore track, including at their (seemingly) final show at Madison Square Garden.
- Electric Lady Sessions sees the group cover "Seconds" by The Human League, "I Want Your Love" by Chic, and "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" by Heaven 17.
- Dance-Punk: He is pretty much the defining artist of the genre.
- Eagleland: "North American Scum" addresses both types, with the song being about how America is recognized as type 2, but celebrating the often-ignored elements in a type 1 fashion.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "Tribulations", "Us v Them", "Give It Up".
- Epic Rocking:
- "All My Friends" and "You Wanted A Hit" are two of their longer songs, but many of their songs tend to go past the 6-minute mark.
- Over 3/4 of the songs on This Is Happening are above six minutes.
- "45:33" deserves special mention, all six parts clock in at a total of 46 minutes.
- His longest single songs are the two versions of "Yeah": the "Crass Version" is 9:21, the "Pretentious Version" is 11:06.
- Establishing Character Moment: The band's first single, "Losing My Edge", is effectively their mission statement: a semi-resentful yet semi-tongue-in-cheek and self-aware rant about being too old to be famous, scraping for any modicum of maturity and cred to feel valid in the industry. All while being absolutely excellent to dance to.
- Fanvid: There's a pretty famous one for "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down", featuring Kermit the Frog singing in New York, notable for the ending which reveals that he's being puppeted by James Murphy himself.
- "Friends" Rent Control: Lampshaded in "North American Scum". "New York's the greatest if you get someone to pay your rent."
- Growing Up Sucks:
- An often-explored topic, most prominently with tracks like "Losing My Edge" and "All My Friends". A big factor that led to the creation of the band was Murphy's discontent of having "missed" the window to be famous when he was younger (LCD Soundsystem began in his mid-30's, which by most indie rock standards makes him akin to a Cool Old Guy), and as a result, many of his lyrics are often wistful and nostalgic in tone. Ironically, this uniquely mature perspective is part of why the group is so widely celebrated.
- This trope is subverted in the track "Tonite," where Murphy argues that there's still plenty of time to live your best life after youth:And all the hits are saying the same thingThere's only tonight, tonight, tonight, tonightAnd life is finiteBut shit, it feels like foreverIt feels like forever
- Hipster: Deconstructed in "Losing My Edge." The singer was an indie DJ back in the 60's and 70's. Now, everything that was underground when he played it is being co-opted by "art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties." By the end, he's in a name-dropping battle rattling off every group in his vinyl collection to prove his relevance.
- I Am the Band: LCD Soundsystem is effectively "James Murphy, ft. a decent list of regular collaborators". The project may technically involve many people, but Murphy is effectively the mastermind who writes and produces the bulk of everything under its name.
- Inaction Video:
- The video for "Drunk Girls" hangs a lampshade on this trope. A low budget was given to a bunch of people to buy whatever costumes and props they wanted in order to use any means necessary to distract and make the band screw up while they were calmly performing, a notable difference from the usual Inaction Video where the band doesn't acknowledge their surroundings.
- Played straight with "All My Friends", which features Murphy sitting down and singing into the camera as it pans out and gradually reveals more of the band playing around him.
- It's Always Sunny at Funerals: Mentioned in "Someone Great", a song about dealing with the death of a loved one.The worst is all the lovely weather
I'm stunned it's not raining
- It Will Never Catch On: "I was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band. / I told him, 'Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime.'" in "Losing My Edge".
- "I Want" Song: "All I Want," of course, which is more specifically about a disappointing relationship which didn't end well. Murphy's "want" in this case is just any reaction from his former lover, even if one of pity.
- Last Note Nightmare: "Get Innocuous!" is a fairly mellow and danceable song, but ends on some pretty dissonant strings that wouldn't sound out of place in a horror movie.
- List Song: "Losing My Edge" is this in two ways: For most of the song, it's Murphy — framing himself as a grumpy music veteran who never got the spotlight a younger generation is always receiving — listing off a bunch of (most fake) stories of his life, seemingly as a desperate attempt to be taken seriously. In the song's climax, in a last-ditch grasp at appearing relevant, it ends with him blasting off all his records and music influences at once.
- Long Title: "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up," "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down."
- Love Nostalgia Song: "All I Want" is about a relationship which has long passed, but Murphy admits to still be self-pityingly stuck on and still needy from, wanting any scraps of reciprocation on before he finally lets go.
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Watch the Tapes," "New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down," "Sound of Silver," "Drunk Girls".
- Lyric Swap: "I believe in waking up together" becomes "I believe in waiting out the weather" during the last chorus of "Drunk Girls."
- Minimalistic Cover Art: LCD Soundsystem and American Dream
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 4 throughout the entire career.
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Or rather, city. "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" is a bittersweet, contradictory love ballad towards a city he considers home, but one which matured into something increasingly distant from his idealized past.
- New Sound Album: "This Is Happening" comes close, being more elaborate than the previous two albums.
- Nice Guys Finish Last: Inverted in "Losing My Edge": "I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent. And they're actually really, really nice."
- Non-Appearing Title: "45:33", which isn't mentioned in the composition even once. Heck, it's not even the length of the composition itself, which is 45:58 — "45:33" actually comes from the two most common RPMs for playing back vinyl records).
- Nostalgia Filter: The song "Sound of Silver" plays with the album's theme of nostalgia and youth, setting up then quickly rebutting this notion with the repeating lines of "Sound of silver, talk to me / makes you want to feel like a teenager / until you remember the feelings of / a real life emotional teenager / then you think again."
- Ode to Intoxication: "Drunk Girls" can be seen as this.
- The Oner: "All My Friends," "Drunk Girls"
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down" is far closer to a jazzy piano ballad than any of the group's usual Dance-Punk shtick.
- Precision F-Strike: "If I could fuck you here tonight" from "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up," "You don't know shit about where I'm from" and "what's it called? Oh, fuck it" from "Pow Pow," "Who has put up with all of your shit" from "All I Want," "fuck the shuffle, put your shit on repeat" from "Emotional Haircut."
- Politically Correct: The record label James Murphy owns, Death from Above Records, was changed post-9/11 because it wasn't a good idea for a label based in New York City to be called that. It's now just "DFA Records".
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: During the quickly-delivered Long List of the singer's influences from "Losing My Edge", "Gil! Scott! Heron!" is given this treatment.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "How Do You Sleep?" off American Dream, is this in song form, reportedly directed at Murphy's former production partner Tim Goldsworthy. Also doubles as a Shout-Out to John Lennon's similarly titled diss track aimed at Paul McCartney.
- Rock-Star Song: "All My Friends" can be interpreted as a bittersweet, nostalgic variant.
- Rockumentary: Shut Up and Play the Hits, which chronicles Murphy before, during and after the Grand Finale 2011 concert.
- Sarcastic Title: "North American Scum", which is about Americans are looked down upon because of their flaws, ignoring all of the good things about North America.
- Self-Titled Album: Their debut record.
- Self-Deprecation: "Losing My Edge" is part this and part Take That!. The song is about Murphy (or just a representation of himself) being bitter at new young musicians being more successful than he could ever be and trying to find relevance at his age, but is done so hyperbolically that it's also clearly a dig at himself for feeling bitter about it."I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know."
- "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House".
- "Losing My Edge" mentions Can, Suicide, Captain Beefheart, Daft Punk, Paradise Garage, Larry Levan, The Beach Boys, Modern Lovers, Niagara, Yaz, This Heat, Pere Ubu (twice), Outsiders, Nation of Ulysses, Mars, Trojans, Black Dice, Todd Terry, The Germs, Section 25, Althea and Donna, Sexual Harassment, a-ha, Public Image Ltd., The Human League, The Normal, Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Monks, Joy Division, Sun Ra, 10cc, Soulsonic Force, David Axelrod, The Slits, "GIL! SCOTT! HERON!", Faust, Swans, Soft Cell, and The Sonics. That's not even the full list.
- "We have a black president, and you do not" from "Pow Pow."
- Single Stanza Song: "Sound Of Silver", whose lyrics repeat:Sound of silver, talk to me
Makes you want to feel like a teenager
Until you remember the feelings of
A real life emotional teenager
Then you think again
- Something Something Leonard Bernstein: From "Losing My Edge", the climax can be described as "Ericbandrakimindexbasicchannelsoulsonicforcejusthitme... GIL! SCOTT! HERON!"
- Spoken Word in Music: James's distinctive singing embraces elements of this.
- Take That!: "Time to Get Away" might sound at first like some kind of Anti-Love Song, but according to Murphy, it's actually about a previous manager which he hated who was trying to exploit LCD Soundsystem just for cash.
- There's No Place Like Home: "Home" is lyrically about settling down after a chaotic, yet fruitful limelight with friends, deciding to move onto the next stage in life. This is even visually represented in the music video, where after the Tin-Can Robot lives a loud, happy life of partying and music, it finally tires out and returns home to its creator.
- Tin-Can Robot: The "Home" video features a very crudely-designed robot made by an old inventor, left to wander Houston.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Yeah" and "Pow Pow", although they're repeated far more in each chorus than the titles might lead you to believe.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: The band regularly spells "your" as "yr" in song titles and lyric sheets, i.e., "Dance Yrself Clean."