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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
LCD Soundsystem
This Is Happening

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

June 28, 2010
Indie dance-rock elder statesman James Murphy offers what has been promised to be LCD Soundsystem's final album, but teary farewells (and expectations) aside, this is not his best work. This Is Happening often lacks the immediacy its title implies, instead presenting a meandering pastiche that more often than not hits you over the head with a big bag of meh.

Granted, expectations play a big role in how an album such as this is received and LCD's previous Sound of Silver was a tough act to top. The self-aware, quasi-obnoxious and, from time to time, poignantly sincere personality Murphy exuded gave that album value beyond its tight production and astute reinterpretation of his influences. While that sparkling production is as tight as ever this time around, the result is far less exciting and much more derivative, as much of what made Murphy interesting on past albums becomes grating here.

Obnoxious-mode Murphy, as seen on "Pow Pow" and "Drunk Girls," comes across as more of an oaf than the sarcastic aging hipster that bared his ironic soul on "Losing My Edge." While that song contained insight of some consequence, tracks like "Drunk Girls" offer insight into the virtues of drunk girls. And although it could prove a lucrative venture if royalty checks from beer commercials start rolling in, it's dull: irritating lyrically and musically derivative of "White Light/White Heat". The homages are a mixed bag. While "I Can Change" is a decent tribute to Gary Numan and "All I Want" ought to make a Berlin-era Bowie proud, we don't benefit all that much from an updated version of "Nightclubbing" (see "Somebody's Calling Me") or "You Wanted a Hit" (a possible reinterpretation of Korn's "Y'all Want a Single." Kidding.) Lyrically, the same motif of self-aware aging is explored and combined with the musical redundancy, it all starts to sound like something we've heard before after a while.

So This Is Happening is decidedly underwhelming, although there isn't really anything 'wrong' with it. How could it, when it basically amounts to a tribute to a pretty great record collection? A good compilation of stylistic imitations however, if not greater than the sum of its parts, offers something uniquely its own. Otherwise it'd just be another burned mix CD. That's not exactly what we're dealing with here, but it isn't too far off either. Despite its well-manufactured design, it ultimately has the same effect.

But the real question about This Is Happening isn't, nor was it ever, whether or not it sounded good technically--it does. It isn't whether or not James Murphy knows his history and can replicate the aesthetics of his heroes with sophistication--he clearly can. It's whether or not This Is Happening stands on its own merits as an original composition consistent with the quality of the LCD catalog. It falls short on both accounts, unfortunately, in what basically amounts to a final victory lap for a band that made its mark and doesn't have much more to say.

Reviewed by Eric Collin Wedgewood

See other reviews by Eric Collin Wedgewood



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