This Is Happening (DFA)
If producer/bandleader James Murphy’s coy speculation on the project’s future comes to pass, LCD Soundsystem’s third album will also be their last. This is a huge bummer, obviously, because Murphy has been behind some of the decade’s most charming dancefloor hits, and because This Is Happening is an inconveniently minor swan song.
As with their self-titled debut and 2007’s mostly stellar Sound of Silver, This Is Happening is a scatterbrained affair, with Murphy and his collaborators basically following up on any idea they can milk a six- or seven-minute pop song out of. “All I Want,” for instance, mostly foregoes the dance beats in favor of straightforward indie rock, with decent results. (Along with “I Can Change,” it also continues Murphy’s odd flirtations with earnestness, which worked on Sound of Silver’s “All My Friends” but otherwise seems out of place.) There’s also the party rock of “Drunk Girls,” sung in the “bewildered hipster” voice common to some of LCD’s most memorable tracks, and a smart first single, and the utterly skippable plod of “Somebody’s Calling Me.” As usual, though, the real draw is the half of the album dedicated to Murphy’s extended, often brilliant four-on-the-floor disco bangers. “Pow Pow” and “One Touch” both remind you how effusive sloganeering can be just as effective as any melodic hook, while the slow burn of “You Wanted a Hit” oozes attitude. Still, even as “Home” brings the record to a sonically poignant close, This Is Happening never coalesces as anything more than a slightly shaky follow-up to a better album. Surely a project that debuted with a mission statement like “Losing My Edge” deserves a more auspicious last word.