The first reactionary thought that entered into my head when I saw the video for LCD Soundsystem’s new single “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” was that it looked like iPod was attempting to target the exclusively nocturnal cachet (as opposed to their other TV spots, all of which seemed to fête a “necktie and subway by day, leather wristband and taxicab by night” schematic). A dark virtual replay of Michel Gondry’s video for The White Stripes’ “The Hardest Button To Button,” the video’s stop-motion effects and INXS-derivative editing hiccups suggested not only the fabricated clicking noise of the pocket console’s navigation wheel but also the disjointed, DJ-of-the-whim programming which said wheel unleashes. Backing it up is the fact that James Murphy (LCD’s one-man outfit) is the only recognizable human shape in the clip, throwing a party in an empty brownstone on an empty city street. I celebrate myself, I dance by myself, and I DJ my onanism.
But, hey, Apple already confirmed that solitary looks pretty fab in the form of shadow dancing against bold backgrounds on pasted-up street posters, and LCD Soundsystem‘s incongruous pair of discs devoted to the art of declaring one’s taste an island unto oneself (and jacking up the rent) sounds like prototypal iPod music: the musical personification of letting the white earbuds speak on behalf of your astonishingly discerning taste (earbuds which, I hasten to note, coordinate perfectly with the album’s black on white cover art). I don’t mean to suggest that Murphy’s preeminent accomplishment is scoring the discontent of the supercilious cultural guerillas. Actually, in that regard, the music is its own antithesis. It’s an unruly and volatile blend of DIY techno minimalism against electroclash maximalism, a sonic balancing act that is far more generous and inviting than, say, Daft Punk’s latest LP. The first disc of LCD Soundsystem (the “album half,” one could say), settles on a fairly approachable album format of peaks and valleys. The “Rollin’ & Scratchin’”-quoting “Daft Punk” onslaught is immediately submerged in the ghost-in-the-machine synth-strings of “Too Much Love,” a hollowly-chugging little ditty that alone proves that nothing sounds more mutedly frightening than sincerity from a hipster.
And so it goes: “Disco Infiltrator,” with nagging whole-tone conch-shell keyboard lines and knowingly corny, whiteboy backup singing direct from the Midnite Vultures playbook that effectively says, “I love this not in spite of its lack of authenticity, but because of it,” goes up against the camped-up tragedy of premature world-weariness of “Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up,” which drives the point home by basically being too lazy to do anything but crib from The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.” (What was that I just said about mocking authenticity?) But, befitting the iPod’s role in the further degradation of the album format, LCD Soundsystem‘s second (bonus?) disc is probably the real coup, collecting all those singles you might have seen atop some of the last handful of Pazz & Jop polls and wondered “what of?” Both versions of “Yeah” (crass and pretentious) and, first among equals destined for swift playlist dispersal between Bright Eyes and Ciara, the epic “Losing My Edge,” which straddles the ever-widening gulf between rockism and anti-rockism and lights a clove. I still haven’t decided whether or not to take LCD Soundsystem at face value (street value, in contrast, has priced me right out). Hey, if I want sincerity in dance music, I’ll listen to Kerri Chandler.