The third (and possibly last) album by James Murphy and co. is nine tracks of beat-oriented electro-rock that flits between vigorous riffage and slow-building set pieces.
James Murphy knows the key ingredients of a great record. The New Jersey man's background as a label boss (DFA Records) served him well when he decided to embark upon his own music-making career: the resultant albums ('LCD Soundsystem' and 'Sound of Silver') were the sort of accomplished, intriguing records that will undoubtedly still be hailed as 'influential' in twenty years.
Rumour has it that this may well be Murphy's last release under the LCD Soundsystem moniker; if that's the case, it's a fitting note to end a trinity of albums on. That said, 'This is Happening' isn't a particularly instantaneous sort of party record, either. Nine songs spread over an hour means that these songs are almost mini-set pieces that take time to build up, and then take time to wind down.
'Dance Yrself Clean' is characteristic of the album as a whole, its long, stark, beat-driven intro eventually breaking into an outburst of twiddly keyboard riffs, harmonies, and long, grainy synth lines. 'Home' follows a somewhat similar blueprint, eventually giving way to the sort of melodic dance track that David Byrne is usually heard guesting on. But there's diversity here, too: 'One Touch' blends noodly '80s electropop with a flabby, rough-round-the-edges beat, while 'Pow Pow' shimmers and swells and bounces with bongo drums and is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser when played live.
Although many tracks seem to hint at the desolation caused by the break-up of a relationship, Murphy perhaps puts it best when he sings "You wanted a hit, but maybe we don't do hits / I try and try, it ends up feeling kind of wrong". By being true to himself, he may not have a number one album, but he's making consistently interesting music that's almost certain to age well.