White men can’t dance; every so often, though, they can make fabulous dance music. Take James Murphy, the producer (and indie drummer) who, for all purposes, is LCD Soundsystem.
With Tim Goldsworthy, his partner in the label and production team DFA, Murphy has jacked up everyone from Le Tigre to Junior Senior and been dubbed an underground version of N.E.R.D. frontman Pharrell Williams. The comparison runs even deeper: Murphy’s a nerd too, but of the dance-rock kind. Exhibit A: ”Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” the opening salvo on LCD Soundsystem. Over a euphoric house beat speckled with U2-like guitar, Murphy pledges allegiance to the French techno duo. More lyrically cutting, but no less geeky, is ”Losing My Edge,” wherein the aging-hipster narrator rattles off his ancient rocknerd credentials (catching an early Can show, for instance) as a way to counter the alt-rock youngsters making him feel increasingly obsolete.
Happily, there’s little outdated about LCD Soundsystem, which unites the club and indie-rock crowds in ways few have attempted since the ’80s. Break-beats as crisp as starched shirts coexist with all things dank and underground: grim punk basses and Murphy’s moody yelp, which add gravitas to what could have been slaphappy novelties. Some of Murphy’s best work is on the second of LCD Soundsystem’s two discs, which collects early 12-inchers like ”Yeah,” a delicious techno-funk hybrid that’ll give you vertigo even if you’re seated. Compared with the second half, the first disc — a full-length album — bogs down in homages to art rock. ”Bear in mind, we all fall behind from time to time,” yelps Murphy in ”Disco Infiltrator.” To the relief of white guys everywhere, he rarely does.