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Don't Dream It's Over

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LCD Soundsystem's first album since their so-called retirement is a dark and brooding culmination of the band's sounds and influences over the years.

LCD Soundsystem/ American Dream

In April 2011, Brooklyn dance-rock act LCD Soundsystem put on their last performance at New York City's Madison Square Garden. Dubbed "a farewell show" (attendees were even asked to dress in black and white as if for a funeral), the sold-out, one-night-only gig happened in the wake of the band's retirement previously announced by frontman James Murphy who reasoned in one of the interviews that "It's all just gotten bigger than I planned or wanted … I don't want to be a famous person." Those who were there or have seen the subsequent documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits would recall just how final everything was -- that the group would actually cease to exist. There was also a five-LP box set The Long Goodbye released in commemoration of that same farewell show.

Then, five years later, LCD Soundsystem rose from their proverbial death, headlining last year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival alongside freshly reunited Guns N' Roses. But unlike GnR, LCD's return has turned out to be more than a run-of-the-mill reunion. Having now dropped their latest offering American Dream, it's become clear that Murphy and Co merely took a break. The so-called retirement was simply a hiatus and, as one can imagine, a lot of people was left feeling deceived and betrayed.

Gripes aside, the record does contain a handful of tracks that serve as a reminder why LCD became a much-loved band in the first place. Opener Oh Baby starts off with some persistent ticking, seemingly echoing Murphy's ever-present anxiety. Other Voices (feat Nancy Whang) serves up an erratic blend of bells, synths and other noises. "You're just a baby now/You're just a baby now/You should be uncomfortable," he sings, alluding to the conversation he had with David Bowie about putting the band back together.

Arriving with hi-hats and guitar screeches, Change Yr Mind finds him revisiting the theme of growing old: "I've just got nothing left to say/ I'm in no place to get it right … I'm just too old for it now/ At least that seems to be true." Nine-minute-long How Do You Sleep? is both dark and epic with roaring tribal drums to the fore; Tonite is reminiscent of the tracks by UK indietronica quintet Hot Chip whereas politically bent Call the Police has the same driving, cathartic quality shared by some of their previous cuts including Dance Yrself Clean, All My Friends and Someone Great.

American Dream concludes with Emotional Haircut and Black Screen. The former is a rock-leaning number featuring a call-and-response refrain that vaguely brings to mind present-day The Killers. Set to sombre synths and spare piano, the latter is a stirring eulogy dedicated to Bowie. "My hands kept pushing down in my pockets/ I'm bad with people things, but I should have tried more," he laments as the music continues for another five minutes before everything disappears once again.

THE PLAYLIST

PLOT/ Yaab Lae Haao

Thai punk trio PLOT are hinting at their debut LP with Yaab Lae Haao [Vain and Vulgar], their first offering since 2015's Mai Sanid Yaa Len (Strange People) and Hai Mae Lae Khun. Clocking in just under two minutes, the song boasts a tight, no-holds-barred composition and lyrics about the struggles of life in a big city (i.e. Bangkok). "Here to do some searching, homeless and faithless/ But just like you said, don't get hung up on fate," frontman Jitivi "Pai" Banthaisong sings during the refrain. Then, the whole thing is over before we know it.

Beck/ Dear Life

Compared to last year's trap-lite Wow, Dear Life sees Beck dialling back on the unexpected and serving up his signature half-serious whimsy. Built around jaunty piano and crisp guitar riffs, the track appears on Colors, Beck's forthcoming 13th studio outing set to drop next month. "You drove your Rolls into the swamp/ You stole away like a thief, reeling from the sticker shock/ Of the price they put upon your soul/ You buy it back from the burning ashes of the devil you know," he intones, all tongue-in-cheek, before turning sombre. "Dear life, I'm holding on/ How long must I wait/ Before the thrill is gone."

The National/ Day I Die

"I don't need you, I don't need you/ Besides I barely ever see you any more," Matt Berninger wastes no time in setting up the insistent tone of The National's latest cut Day I Die. Joining a handful of singles released ahead of the band's seventh album Sleep Well Beast, the track is by far the most sonically propulsive, thanks largely to Bryan Devendorf's solid drumming. Still sounding bummed out, Berninger muses about people in his life from "ghosts of girlfriends call from Cleveland" to his great uncle Valentine Jester who "had to deal with those people like you who made no goddamn common sense".

The Rural Alberta Advantage/ Brother

One of the most underrated acts to have come out of Canada, The Rural Alberta Advantage have just unveiled a new single entitled Brother. Lifted from their forthcoming record The Wild, the track rides on a breezy-then-rousing indie-rock instrumentation that's matched by vocalist Nils Edenloff's characteristically raw vocals. In the background, there's anthemic shouting of hoo-ha! which recalls The Lumineer's breakout hit, Ho-Hey.

Cymbals/ Where Nothing Can Be Defined

Another criminally underappreciated band, Cymbals are a London-based duo consisting of Jack Cleverly and Dan Simons. They have just followed up their 2014 debut The Age of Fracture with Light In Your Mind, the sophomore effort on which Where Nothing Can Be Defined appears. "All these planets above us are the words I wanted to tell you/ Oh, this ship is travelling further/ On a sea that's not even really there," Cleverly sings over synth layers and twinkly '80s post-punk groove. "Where the wind is just a light in your mind/ And nothing can be defined."

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