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Best LCD Soundsystem Songs: 20 Disco-Punk Anthems To Play At Your House
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Best LCD Soundsystem Songs: 20 Disco-Punk Anthems To Play At Your House

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As one of the most influential bands of the 21st century, LCD Soundsystem have produced some of the most critically acclaimed dance-punk records in recent history. Forming the group in Brooklyn, New York City, in 2002, frontman James Murphy used his witty and satirical lyrics to hold a mirror up to modern-day angst while musically fusing his eclectic influences into a melting pot of dance-punk, alternative dance and post-punk. Bringing the worlds of indie and electronica colliding together, the best LCD Soundsystem songs have proved remarkably enduring and have played a pivotal role in the evolution of dance music. Here, then, is our list of the group’s greatest moments, showcasing why they are essential listening for any fan of electronic dance music.

Listen to the best of LCD Soundsystem here, and check out our best LCD Soundsystem songs, below.

20: Give It Up (standalone single, 2003)

Released in July 2003 as the band’s second single, Give It Up is LCD Soundsystem’s scuzzy take on garage-punk. Noisy and energetic, full of squelching bass and frenetic drumming, it comes across like a turbo-charged funk-rock mash-up that channels the spirit of ’77. It’s almost as if James Murphy had hopped in a time machine to abduct Iggy Pop and force him to front Sly And The Family Stone. Impassioned and relentless, Give It Up is a blast of grit and gumption.

19: Pow Pow (from ‘This Is Happening’, 2010)

With a driving bassline recalling Tina Weymouth’s work with Talking Heads, the astute yet bratty Pow Pow brilliantly sticks indie elitism in a jar (“You don’t know shit about where I’m from that you didn’t get from your TV”). As with the best LCD Soundsystem songs, Murphy’s vocals sets Pow Pow apart, dripping as they are with his trademark introspection and deadpan musings. “I don’t write the vocals until the day they’re recorded, ever, because I feel like it would make them false,” Murphy explained to The Wire in 2005. “Pow Pow has that same feel – spontaneous, unguarded.”

18: Drunk Girls (from ‘This Is Happening’, 2010)

Dragging the hookiness of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat kicking and screaming into the 21st century, Drunk Girls sees LCD Soundsystem turn their satirical gaze to the inebriated antics of party-goers. “It’s a song about funny genders and people being wasted, and people who are drunk trying to relate to each other, which I always find deeply hilarious,” Murphy said in an interview with NME. With tongue firmly in cheek and set to a rip-roaring electro-rock groove, Drunk Girls is positively intoxicating.

17: Tonite (from ‘American Dream’, 2017)

Believed to have been written in response to The Black Eyed Peas’ 2009 hit I Gotta Feeling, LCD Soundsystem’s 2017 single Tonite sees James Murphy place the death-obsessed lyrical clichés of modern pop music under the microscope. “I never realised these artists thought so much about dying,” Murphy sings over a pulsing synth groove, mocking the apocalyptic party vibes “ruling the airwaves” and bemoaning how “all the hits are saying the same thing”. Hyper-aware and chock-full of knowing wit, it’s a hot take that sizzles with each listen.

16: Disco Infiltrator (from ‘LCD Soundsystem’, 2005)

Sounding like Mark E Smith with a head cold, Murphy’s nasal drawl on Disco Infiltrator finds LCD Soundsystem having a stab at electroclash while making nods toward disco-funk and throwing synth-punk into the mix. Cleverly utilising a sample from Kraftwerk’s Home Computer, the song peaked at No.49 in the UK following its release as the follow-up to Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, proving that the best LCD Soundsystem songs were already usurping the efforts of most alternative dance acts of their day.

15: Movement (from ‘LCD Soundsystem’, 2004)

Described by James Murphy in an interview with XLR8R as “a strict and silly electro song” that he dreamt up in the shower, Movement was released as a single in November 2004 and peaked at No.52 in the UK at a time when the “New Rock Revival” was in full swing. “Here comes the report/Nothing to report/See, it’s all the same,” Murphy wrote in lyrics which lampooned music journalists and indie scenesters for hyping up the return of guitar music. “That’s mostly about the ‘new rock’,” Murphy said of the song, “which is a movement without the bother of having any meaning. It’s fucking vacuous and the bands are tedious. They all sound like the MC5.” Murphy did, however, heap some praise upon bands such as The Strokes and The White Stripes, focusing his ire instead on journalists hellbent on inventing new fads.

14: Time To Get Away (from ‘Sound Of Silver’, 2008)

Kicking off with a Billie Jean-type drum beat, Time To Get Away, LCD Soundsystem’s deliriously funky single from 2008, makes terrific use of clavinet to channel the spirit of 70s disco. “People think this song is about an ex-girlfriend or something,” Murphy said during a live show in 2011. “It’s not. It’s about my old manager. Fuck that guy. I paid a lot of money for the right to say fuck that guy.” With one of the most spellbinding grooves among the best LCD Soundsystem songs, Time To Get Away always has fans dancing in the aisles.

13: Call The Police (from ‘American Dream’, 2017)

A Trump-era protest anthem full of sleek and slow-burning synths, Call The Police features a lush, waltz-like arrangement over which Murphy addresses the rise of Twitterati despots (“Well, there’s a full-blown rebellion but you’re easy to confuse/By triggered kids and fakers and some questionable views”). Arguably the most political song LCD Soundsystem have ever released, Call The Police captures Murphy at his most insightful and sharp-witted.

12: Yeah (Crass Version) (standalone single, 2004)

With the vigour of a pre-match pep talk, LCD Soundsystem’s nine-minute single, Yeah, is like a dance-music history lesson (“Everybody keeps on talking about it, nobody’s getting it done”). Cramming in musical references to electro-disco as well as techno and house, it’s a noisy and chaotic dance-punk mash-up which led Murphy to admit to Pitchfork, in 2005, “no song… was as hard to make as Yeah”. Perhaps even more remarkably, Yeah sees the singer bark the titular word an astonishing 479 times. Easily one of the best LCD Soundsystem songs, it was the group’s first single to enter the UK chart, peaking at No.77 in February 2004.

11: Home (from ‘This Is Happening’, 2010)

As the closing track on LCD Soundsystem’s third album, This Is Happening, Home was an ode to how much James Murphy values his bandmates. “I wanted to make something with a happy ending,” he told NME in 2010. “I wanted it to be about being in a band and how much I like it.” Musing on gratitude and companionship, with Murphy pushing his voice into increasingly emotional territory, Home is a deeply affecting track among the best LCD Soundsystem songs.

10: North American Scum (from ‘Sound Of Silver’, 2007)

A quirky and humorous commentary on people’s perceptions of Americans travelling abroad, North American Scum was released in February 2007 as the lead single from LCD Soundsystem’s second album, Sound Of Silver. Resembling Talking Heads with all its funky fervour, it peaked at No.40 in the UK and stands tall among the best LCD Soundsystem songs as a searing electro-rocker full of Murphy’s wry lyrical observations. “The rest of the world knows a lot of facts about America,” Murphy said in an interview with Clash magazine. “I think they know what America’s like from television. Well, that’s not America, that’s American television.”

9: Dance Yrself Clean (from ‘This Is Happening’, 2010)

Thanks to one of the most monumental synth drops in electro-rock history, Dance Yrself Clean more than earns its place among the best LCD Soundsystem songs. Initially set to a dreamy tribal rhythm before exploding into a floor-thumping synth hook, the track quickly became a live favourite and saw James Murphy push his voice to new extremes. “This is the song I lost my voice trying to do. It’s the highest song register I’ve sung,” he told NME in 2010. “I got excited about a synth sound and forgot all about my vocal range, and had to sing it with a voice that was blown out.” It was definitely worth it.

8: New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down (from ‘Sound Of Silver’, 2008)

A deeply honest and intelligent ode to New York City, New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down is surprisingly devoid of LCD Soundsystem’s electronic flourishes, starting out instead as a Broadway-style piano ballad before erupting into a fully-fledged indie rocker. “I simply wanted to write a love song, but I hate love songs, so I wrote one to the city,” Murphy said in an interview with Earplug. With lyrics that muse upon the city’s journey from late-70s crime haven to the gentrified hub of consumerism it is today, it’s the 21st century’s answer to Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York.

7: Tribulations (from ‘LCD Soundsystem’, 2005)

With a pulsing groove reminiscent of New Order’s Blue Monday, LCD Soundsystem’s electro-house banger Tribulations peaked at No.59 in the UK following its release in September 2005. Catchy and hypnotic, the song perfectly marries Murphy’s cynical wit with the band’s knack for alt-dance panache. “I wrote that as kind of a laugh,” the singer said of Tribulations in a 2005 interview. “I remember trying to explain to my friend how easy it is to write pop songs. I was like, ‘Well, watch,’ and I wrote it and just made it up.” Now considered to be one of the best LCD Soundsystem songs, Tribulations proves how even Murphy’s off-the-cuff impulses hit the mark.

6: Oh Baby (from ‘American Dream’, 2018)

With a sci-fi-inspired music video helmed by Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out director Rian Johnson, Oh Baby truly dazzled listeners as the opening track to LCD Soundsystem’s 2017 comeback album, American Dream. Reportedly written as a homage to the late Alan Vega, of post-punk band Suicide – most notably the synth-punk duo’s 1979 song Dream Baby Dream – the bursts of synths on Oh Baby ache with melancholy as Murphy channels the sweeping emotion of 80s music. Ostensibly a breakup song, Oh Baby marked the much-anticipated return of LCD Soundsystem in epic style.

5: I Can Change (from ‘This Is Happening’, 2010)

Released as the third single from LCD Soundsystem’s 2010 album, This is Happening, I Can Change sees Murphy create a heart-rending blend of synth-laden art-pop inspired by 80s acts such as Eurythmics, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and Bronski Beat. “I tried to do the best job I could with that song,” he said in an interview with The Sun. “I wanted to make it really beautiful and it’s got a Jimmy Somerville falsetto.” With Murphy telling The AV Club that he wanted to capture “this kind of romantically yearning music that I really loved growing up”, I Can Change ranks highly on our list of best LCD Soundsystem songs.

4: Daft Punk Is Playing At My House (from ‘LCD Soundsystem’, 2005)

Breaking through to the mainstream with the punked-up sasscore party anthem Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, LCD Soundsystem scored the biggest UK hit of their career when the single peaked at No.29. The inspiration for the song began when James Murphy realised what he loved about indie music was alive and well in house music. “I just had this idea that someone might have gone through the same epiphany with dance music,” he said in an interview with ireallylovemusic.co.uk, “and then ended up saving up to have Daft Punk to play in their basement.” With street-smart vocals with a giddy-headed electro-funk groove, Daft Punk Is Playing at My House is an indie disco classic.

3: Someone Great (from ‘Sound Of Silver’, 2007)

Heartbreaking and mournful, Someone Great is, without a doubt, one of the best LCD Soundsystem songs James Murphy ever wrote. Though he has never spoken directly about the subject, the song is believed to be about the death of Murphy’s therapist, homing in on the singer’s feelings of grief as he wrestles with bereavement (“To tell the truth, I saw it coming/The way you were breathing”). Sombre and yet musically ambitious, Someone Great utilises everything from glitchy synth notes to rumbling bass, yet it’s the use of glockenspiel that seals the deal, turning the song into one of Murphy’s undeniable triumphs.

2: Losing My Edge (standalone single, 2002)

Released in July 2002, LCD Soundsystem’s debut single, Losing My Edge, introduced the world to James Murphy’s unique voice and cynical outlook as he feverishly lists out all his musical influences. At age 32, Murphy wrote the song on a boombox given to him as a gift by Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock. Reflecting upon his popularity as a DJ in New York City, the lyrics for Losing My Edge saw Murphy humorously observe how younger club-goers were beginning to catch up with his eclectic tastes (“I’m losing my edge to the internet seekers who can tell me every member of every good group from 1962 to 1978”).

“To be honest I was afraid that this newfound coolness was going to go away,” Murphy said in an interview with ireallylovemusic.co.uk, “and that’s where Losing My Edge comes from. It is about being horrified by my own silliness.” A truly game-changing release, Losing My Edge resonated with fans across the globe, quickly becoming a seminal dance-punk classic for the way Murphy skewered the pretentiousness of music geeks like himself. Easily one of the best LCD Soundsystem songs, Losing My Edge is still as sharp as a tack.

1: All My Friends (from ‘Sound Of Silver’, 2007)

Holding up a mirror to a whole generation, All My Friends is James Murphy’s finest hour. A nostalgic and cathartic indie-rock epic that channels the bewilderment of ageing and the onset of middle age, it was released as a single in May 2007 and peaked at No.41 in the UK. Since the LCD Soundsystem frontman first found fame in his mid-30s, he had always been somewhat older than most of his musical contemporaries, so it’s hardly a surprise how masterfully All My Friends captures Murphy’s feelings of growing old with extra potency, tackling his existential anxieties head-on (“You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again”).

“All My Friends woke me up to something else,” Murphy said in an interview with The Quietus. “I didn’t realise what emotional impact melody has on people. I always think about lyrics and what they actually mean, and then I realised the energy I respond to physically, people respond to emotionally.” From its kinetic piano intro to its trance-inducing epiphany, All My Friends is one of the most bittersweet and wisest meditations on adulthood ever written, and that’s why it tops our list of the best LCD Soundsystem songs.

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