(February 8th on Anti-Records and Epitaph Records)
Cass McCombs is great because his heady folk rock gets Americana and jammy but just before that gets three-Phish-sets-at-Bonnaroo obnoxious he veers off into another territory entirely. One day we’ll probably think of him as a Great Lost American Songwriter but you could just discover him now, too, it’s never too late.
Who sounds like they’re having more fun than James Murphy? In the middle of the Oughts, people thought dance-punk was something that honestly sounded like a good idea, probably because they heard a couple of old Gang Of Four records and thought they could inject some irony into the proceedings and call it a day (The Rapture). Along with a number of groups who thought they could get along doing the same thing, James Murphy started putting out a string of singles on his co-owned DFA Records label that were along similar lines to the other stuff that was going on in 2005, with a key difference: Murphy and LCD Soundsystem weren’t afraid to get funny as well as funky; it was this combination that made their early singles such successes, and their self-titled debut such a critical darling.
Sound Of Silver, their sophomore effort, turns that idea on it’s head. To be sure, it’s still funny as hell: the self-deprecating party kids of “North American Scum” make for great fun; the chorus of “Sound Of Silver” is good for a rueful grin. What Sound Of Silver really is, though, is poignant, and it rides that particular aspect far better than LCD Soundsystem rode snarky humour. “Someone Great” looks back on the lost, both broken relationships and dead people; “All My Friends” contains the immortal line “You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan / and the next five years trying to get with your friends again.” “Us Vs. Them” feels alienated from the crowd and all the sad drunk boys on their knees; “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” is exactly what it says on the tin – a nostalgia for the old septic New York City and an admission that sometimes the modern theme park version of NYC can get a little much.
Wrapping all of this feels is a slick, eminently danceable disco-punk that keeps moving without stopping (until the end, of course; “New York” is the perfect comedown for a sweat-filled night out). The effect is that Sound Of Silver sounds like a night out with your friends, the ones you haven’t seen in forever but for whom it feels as though no time at all has passed. You want the night to last forever and for a while it feels like it will but eventually you get exhausted and the city seems like a vulture waiting to pick your bones clean and then the sun comes up and there’s one last fleeting bit of glory before you stumble through the dawn streets to find your bed so you can collapse and pass out. It’s as much fun as it sounds.