Long before serving as the frontman of dance-punk’s group of the century, James Murphy was a DJ, falling into LCD Soundsystem, really, by happy accident. But Murphy wasn’t just a DJ in the early 2000s. He was a force to be reckoned with. His eventual label DFA began merely as a party where Murphy entertained his friends by doing what he loved. What may have been done blindly at the time — although surely clear in hindsight — was Murphy serving as the intrinsic ingredient in NYC’s marrying of dance and rock. Helping launch the careers of groups like the Rapture or Hot Chip along the way, he left his mark on both the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire. There’s no doubt disco-rock would not be the same without him.
Often speaking out against the commercial side of dance music is a man who gave an entire generation of indie kids a revolutionary repertoire of records to bust a move to.
Currently amidst their mighty revival, LCD Soundsystem — and Murphy, in particular — is revisiting these roots on “tonite.” Marking itself as the third song off their forthcoming LP, “tonite” hits airwaves with a plethora of vintage musical vehicles. Riding along a smooth crescendo comes a polished dancehall track, revealing a glimmering path back to Murphy’s days of an oily forehead behind the booth or a floor wet with sweat.
While it may seem Murphy’s coming to grips with age and his relevance once more, as he did on “Losing My Edge,” there’s rather a man who’s, at last, changed his tone. “Everybody’s singing the same song/It goes tonite, tonite, tonite, tonite,” he begins. Near the second half of the stanza, he continues this time much darker: “I never realized that these artists/Thought so much about dying.”
“Man, life is finite/But shit, it feels like forever.” As the song comes to an end, it rises in intensity and Murphy turns to the camera. “You hate the idea that you’re wasting your youth/That you stood in the background until you got older/But that’s all lies.” Murphy’s understood his mortality for quite some time, and on “tonite,” he’s thinking beyond. It’s a blissful wave of euphoria that leaves listeners optimistic of what else they too can do to improve their internal landscape and realize their own American Dream. It seems, at last, Murphy’s realized he’s been living his all along.
American Dream is out Sept. 1 via Columbia/DFA.