Like the Pixies and Stereolab, groundbreaking musical acts become reference points for all critical likenesses that eventually follow the trail they blaze. With the release of Sound of Silver, James Murphy's LCD Soundsystem is sure to join pop music's gang of influence.
It's not just that LCD Soundsystem has mastered the fusion of dance and punk, it's that Murphy has humanized electronic music. LCD's self-titled 2005 debut was widely noted for the incredibly energetic dance single, "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House." What gave that song its energy? Not just the beats and loops, but a spirit of youthful rebellion, sneering cool and humorously transparent hipster posturing. It was enough to earn two Grammy nominations for that recording, including best electronic album.
Where "Daft Punk" left off in 2005, "North American Scum" picks up in 2007. Murphy's irony-tinged, slacker vocals, partly sung and partly spoken, mock the boasts of greatness among kids making the North American scene. Not every track is that electrifying, even if the album has few weak spots.
The building disco rhythms of "Us v. Them" are a highlight. The album's five-minute culmination is a broken-dreams piano ballad titled, "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down." Electronic music hasn't often been identified with Dandy Warhols-style decadent chic, but LCD Soundsystem is making the link.