LCD Soundsystem: London Sessions
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LCD Soundsystem: London Sessions

Since James Murphy’s control-freak obsessiveness has dominated every analog synth squiggle and tweaked drum machine of LCD Soundsystem’s studio recordings, it’s little surprise that his first official “live” album retains that same hermetic seal. Recorded live-in-studio in the spirit of the late John Peel, London Sessions aims to reproduce the loose kineticism the group so feverishly conjures in concert—when plug-ins and samples are replaced by happy-mistake-prone human beings—but not by sacrificing any safety net. On the one hand, there are no screaming yahoos baying requests; on the other, there’s none of the give-and-take energy so crucial to live performance. So why bother? Mostly, it’s the little things: Murphy’s playful asides in “Pow Pow”—wishing a DJ happy birthday, shouting out a favorite restaurant, mockingly chastising a bandmate who forgot to turn off a cell phone—are the sort of thing these sessions are made for, as are experiments like a slowed, echo-laden “I Can Change” that emphasizes the song’s maudlin undertones. A rocked-up “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,” the circular jams of “Us V Them” and “Get Innocuous,” and especially the dramatic ebb-and-explode of “Yr City Is A Sucker” similarly differ enough from studio versions to recommend them to the curious. Then there’s “All My Friends,” transcendent here in its perpetually building, designed-for-maximum-impact live form, and a captured moment in time that renders London Sessions truly indispensable.

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