10 Best LCD Soundsystem Songs
In 2001, after creating the label Death From Above (DFA in the post-9/11 world), James Murphy founded LCD Soundsystem and set about releasing singles and gaining an underground cult following. This was the early days of the Internet, and LCD were one of the first groups to gain popularity more as a result of illegal downloads and file sharing than through actual record sales and radio play. Over the course of three LPs, LCD Soundsystem emerged as one of the era's most profound and meaningful groups, as Murphy captured our collective feeling of waking up one day to a new reality. And then, just as quick as they appeared, LCD were gone. They bid fans farewell with a sold-out MSG party and left behind a pristine catalog. Here are the 10 Best LCD Soundsystem Songs.
To get an idea of just how deep the first LCD Soundsystem album is, consider this: 'Disco Infiltrator' was the sixth single, counting the three that arrived in advance of the disc. The Kraftwerk-sampling track is deceptively paced, and despite uptempo percussion, it's one of the more relaxed moments on the collection. For his part, Murphy manages to squeeze in his over-the-top, are-you-ready-to-rock voice; his chill croon; and his falsetto, showing the many capabilities of his limited range. Perhaps overlooked in the LCD canon, 'Disco Infiltrator' is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers.
Spoiler alert: A couple of classic songs, 'Someone Great' and 'New York I Love You,' didn't make this list, and that's because LCD Soundsystem's ballads lack the sonic intricacy of the bangers. 'I Can Change,' another one of Murphy's prettier, more sentiment-driven tracks, is more universally relatable and musically exciting than both of those, and he sings it beautifully, hitting high notes you can hardly believe.
At No. 8 on our list of the 10 Best LCD Soundsystem Songs is 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,' a tune released while Daft Punk were still on the rise, and that might have even helped them gain some recognition. That bit of pop-culture context aside, this song lends itself to personal connections. As many writers have pointed out, Murphy touches people through his songs, and 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House' will always remind me of riding around New Orleans in a rental car months after Hurricane Katrina. I heard a lot of songs in that car, but this is the one that stands out. Murphy has written more than a few songs that have this effect, and it's a safe bet plenty of fans tell similar stories.
The opener of 'Sound of Silver' begins with an extended intro that suggests James Murphy is fully aware he has a masterpiece to follow. He goes big, letting the layering go two bars further than expected, until the tension is too much to maintain. Props must also be given to Nancy Whang, who sings at the end of the track, and to faithful drummer Pat Mahoney. These two LCD members will never get the attention Murphy has, and that's understandable, but they played key roles in a key band.
At No. 6 on our list of the 10 Best LCD Soundsystem Songs is the opening cut from 'This Is Happening.' Initially, it almost seemed like a case of context trumping content, the idea being more substantial then the tune. But now, it's hard to believe anyone was ever on the fence about this song. That moment when it goes from too quiet to too loud is incredibly dramatic, and it forces you to lower the volume in your car, lest you freak passengers and possibly crash.
Whether the "Crass Version" or the "Pretentious Version" is your preference, 'Yeah' is a freight train of a song, seemingly unstoppable once it gets going. Of all the songs in the LCD canon, it's probably shares the most in common with the EDM music happening simultaneously. That said, it served as a good bridge to get people out of the mindless club scene and into Murphy's thoughtful -- though not always danceable -- songs.
There's not a huge difference between the original and the live version, but this London Sessions version of 'Us Vs. Them' captures just how good LCD Soundsystem got at recreating their sound with live instrumentation. To do what they do without a computer on stage, well, that is amazing.
It's easy to get lost in the production, as Murphy layers percussion, synth and guitar bits for 80 seconds before repeating the word "home" for another 30. But he's one of the greatest lyricists of all time, and on this, the final song in the LCD catalog, it's the words -- profound and uplifting -- that are worth paying attention to. Murphy is able to express what going out and being around people means, and while he's older and wiser than his audience, he delivers his insights without losing sight of what it's like to be young. Ultimately, Murphy can say something like "If you're scared of what you need, look around you, you're surrounded, it won't get any better" and not sound didactic, but rather like an older brother passing on what he's learned.
At No. 2 on our list of the 10 Best LCD Soundsystem Songs is the one that started it all. It's a convenient intro to the band, as Murphy sings candidly about his interests and influences, revealing his sense of humor, point of view and talent. ‘Losing My Edge’ might be the most definitive single-song introduction any artist has produced, and it manages to be both funny as hell and meaningful. Hard to believe he wrote an even better song. And yet...
Maybe the best song ever written, 'All My Friends' makes you think about and miss those you've been closest to. You remember the good times and wonder how you all got so far away from each other. The song may be lost on teens and college students, but once you reach your mid-20's, it becomes absolutely priceless.