LCD Soundsystem: “Electric Lady Sessions” Review

While much of modern day music is mainly produced from machines and layered to death, the music tends to come off well after it has mixed and mastered in a sound room. Performing electronically-driven music in a live setting, on the other hand, rarely comes off as an enjoyable experience. LCD Soundsystem’s newest album, “Electric Lady Sessions,” proves to be the exception to that rule that if done right, synthesized sounds can mesh well with live instruments.

According to Rolling Stone, the album is named after the New York-based recording studio, “Electric Lady Studios,” and is essentially a live version of the band’s former album. Rolling Stone said that the group spent three days recording new live versions of songs from their previous album, “American Dream,” and a few covers, like “I Want Your Love” originally performed by Chic and “Seconds” that was originally sung by The Human League.

The album is instrumentally driven and combines both 80s new wave with strong basslines and keyboard throughout many of the songs. A few of the songs on the album have longer instrumental introductions lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to nearly two minutes, especially those from “American Dream” that are almost being reworked for this album.  While the instrumentation is incredibly strong on this album, much of the lyrical content tends to be drowned out by the instruments accompanying it. This is a disappointment due to the fact that many of the songs have a strong message about today’s toxic social aspects.

The song “tonite” explores how many artists perform songs about living in the moment and being upbeat, but in reality, these nights spent partying tend to drag on and the song’s lyrics declare that “these artists thought so much about dying.”  “tonite” plays off of those ideas and has a strong instrumental overlap to drown out lyrics that show what the artist is truly feeling.  Whether it was intentional during the recording process to overdub the lyrical content to prove a point or not, it really takes away from the message that the group was trying to comment on. Many listeners will gravitate towards the upbeat feeling and treat as if each song was just another club hit unless they are thoroughly listening for the meaning of the lyrics.

While the lyrics are conveying a message, the songs are not in a typical long story form like many call-to-arms songs would be. Many of the album’s early songs have repetitive lyrics that get old quickly. It felt like they were trying to make chants out of their songs, but only had a vague idea of what it was that they wanted to address, almost as if they were more concerned with what the sign would look like more than the words on that sign. The lyrics weren’t entirely clear and at times. I wasn’t even sure if there was a message they were trying to get across because I could barely hear what it is that they were singing over their instruments.

The overall feel of the album was still interesting.  It was different from other live albums, because the band wasn’t performing in a concert setting, but almost as if it was listening to them demo the songs live.  They were tinkering with previous songs and flowed them in new and inventive ways.  “tonite,” “home” and “I Want Your Love” all connected without taking a break in between to create almost a cohesive song in 15 minutes.  It felt like a chilled-out performance that would be played in a smaller club or in a private and I think that helps it stand out from other live recordings.

“Electric Lady Sessions” is an inventive and enjoyable album, it was a breath of fresh air compared to other technologically produced music of today. But the album was not without a few faults. As someone who appreciates both musical and lyrical content together, the lyrics are too repetitive and waste the opportunity to perfect the message that was meant to be conveyed in the first place.