The first song on LCD Soundsystem's long-awaited debut draws some sociological lines in the sand, but first comes the beat: Built around distended handclaps and tilted drum cymbals that shimmer as they shake, the thumping rhythm moves, forcefully and fancifully, at a quasi-disco quiver. (There's even a cowbell solo.) Woven into the beat is the literal sociological part, which imagines a pair of shiny robots taking the place of a rock band at a hipster house party. So goes "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," a call to arms from a band that's left the underground-rock world to reconsider its aversion to dance music—a form that, as many would have it, inspires reactions somehow less noble and distinguished than, say, standing around a rock club sipping beer with crossed arms.
LCD Soundsystem leader James Murphy has given rock music a danceable blast as half of The DFA, the production team behind The Rapture's epochal "House Of Jealous Lovers." His favored sound peers back at old post-punk bands like Gang Of Four, but its connotations amount to more than historical plundering in a present-day rock context still haunted by disco backlash. Giving up the ghost is the charge of LCD Soundsystem, an album that marries raw rock attitudes to the sonic spread and kinetic energy central to dance music. The first single, "Movement," is pure punk, flailing though Stooges bash and ranted vocals cribbed from The Fall. More typical is "Tribulations," a tight electro stormer in which Murphy wails, "It feels all right as long as something's happening!"
Lots of things happen in LCD Soundsystem songs: "On Repeat" spins keyboard and guitar stabs over a shivering tambourine that grows antic and antsy, while "Thrills" follows mellow hand-drums beneath spells of goth-rock hiss. A lot of room separates the '70s swoon of "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up" and the body-lock swagger of "Disco Infiltrator," but the members of LCD Soundsystem navigate it like fans of the sounds they're busy cooking up. Their fandom hits a flat note in "Great Release," an album-ender slavishly indebted to Brian Eno, but its sweep incites as much as it recites. A bonus disc of early singles (like "Losing My Edge" and "Yeah") reaches peaks the album fails to scale, but LCD Soundsystem nonetheless makes a grand show of kicking up dust and dancing with its shadows.