It’s easy to assume that live albums are just a fast way for artists to make money, given that their tracklists are simply old songs played in a new setting. However, LCD Soundsystem makes you feel their newest live album is more than a cash grab. Much like their last live album, 2010's “London Sessions,” “Electric Lady Sessions” is "live" in the sense that it was recorded while on their American Dream tour over a three–day period at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan, N.Y. The 12–song album, released Feb. 8th, includes renditions of their existing hits as well as covers of songs by other artists.
The first track is a cover of “Seconds” by The Human League, an English synth-pop band formed in 1977. LCD Soundsystem’s cover sounds eerily similar to the original, possibly due to the fact that the electronically driven sounds of The Human League match the vibe of LCD Soundsystem’s cover. The repetition of “It took seconds of your time to take his life” are striking lyrics to start off the album. It’s dreary; it’s raw. Similarly, the last song on the album is a cover of “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” by the English band Heaven 17. As the song title suggests, it’s oddly political for the band, with lyrics like “Reagan’s president elect / Fascist god in motion.” It’s a bangin’ way to close off the album—not with an original song, but a synth–pop cover.
One of the best tracks on the album is “Call the Police,” which is done in a way that is messier than the original off of LCD Soundsystem’s “American Dream” album, but in a way that makes the song all the more powerful. The electric guitar comes in right away instead of following a build up of clicks on a wooden box, as it does in the original. The electricity encompasses the vocals with melodic noise. “Electric Lady Sessions” doesn’t make you want to dance in the way that LCD Soundsystem usually does. Rather, you just want to sit down and have it surround your space, passing between your ears. Similarly, in the song “American Dream,” the vocals seem like they come from far away while the web of synthesized piano and bass lines are in your face. The lyrics are reminiscent of a different time, one that you can’t get back. “Home” is less mesmerizing, but only because the beats are more fast–paced and varied. It’s much heavier than the original version, featured in their album, “This is Happening.”
Even with the interchangeability between covers and original songs, the overall album flows and meshes as one unit. It’s easy to imagine lead singer James Murphy playfully interacting with synthesizer Nancy Wang and drummer Pat Mahoney—all complimenting each others sounds. Just when you thought you knew LCD Soundsystem, fifteen years after their formation they prove you wrong. “Electric Lady Sessions” is mesmerizing and refreshing, a late–term re–debut for the band and their music.