More often than not, when I don’t like something that I know is good (or everyone else likes), I tend to just say, “It wasn’t for me.” That is to say, I wasn’t the target-demographic. I said this about the Beauty and the Beast remake, Twenty-One Pilots, Serial, and countless other things that I didn’t really like. I didn’t begin listening to LCD Soundsystem until after they’d broken up, and I was excited to see them reunite. While I understand why fans were angry about their reunion, I could care less to be honest. That being said, American Dream doesn’t seem like it was for me. It seems catered to a certain subsect of fans that probably don’t mind that LCD reunited as opposed to feeling more indifferent about it. Still, even if it wasn’t for me, American Dream is an incredible album that I thoroughly enjoy.
James Murphy and company are the sort of New York band that truly captures a certain essence of the city. They’re best songs make the listener remember the hustle-and-bustle of working there, while still providing an entirely appropriate track to party too. “I Can Change” and “Us v Them” are perfect examples from their two previous albums. The album’s closer “Black Screen” and “How Do You Sleep?” are the only tracks that last this, and it’s hard to tell if they hurt the album or help it. “How Do You Sleep?” seems like it may be an essential live cut, as Murphy puts on his best Bono impression, while howling over an atmospheric instrumental. “Black Screen” also seems like it could be interesting, because it’s moody and long, but neither makes for a great experience listening to on a streaming service. The most interesting part of “Black Screen” is the piano solo near the end. The title track probably would have been a stronger note to close on.
Nonetheless, the band hops into a groove from the get-go with the pounding piano on “Oh Baby.” It leads into a slow, soothing groove, which is the general tone for much of the album. “American Dream” and “I Used To” are more mellow, but keep the record going for a good rhythm. Murphy has orchestrated his band in the right way to tweak the most intense moments of their previous albums to bring a slower, new sound. Even the guitar solo on “I Used To” is an album highlight. I admire the differences, and it seems like the next logic step from This Is Happening.
All the other album tracks wouldn’t sound totally out of place on other LCD albums. “Other Voices” is a bass heavy jam with Murphy throwing out seemingly stream-of-consciousness lyrics with a Bowie-esque inflection. Though, the highlight comes when Murphy proclaims, “Tell ‘em, Nancy,” and Nancy Whang throws in a pretty sweet little rap at the end of the track. “Tonite” captures similar tones with Murphy’s speak-singing and memorable lines such as, “I never realized these artists thought so much about dying.” The band even touches on their punkier songs with “Emotional Haircut,” which has backup vocals singing the title in a similar fashion as was done on “Drunk Girls,” over a bass-driven riff. His best lyrics probably come on “Call the Police” though, which seem both celebratory and bleak-autobiographical, yet general.
Perhaps, I’m wrong. My first listen made me think that this was an LCD album for old fans that appreciate the band’s return, but the more I listen to it, it seems like it’s more for me. I only got into LCD after the band had released their most popular releases, and this album takes the next logical step. It’s the same way I just got into Jawbreaker despite their original breakup being over a decade ago; I like Dear You the best. Perhaps, I’ll end up loving American Dream the best.