Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"In Defense Of...": LCD Soundsystem - "Drunk Girls"

Despite Pitchfork's support of "Drunk Girls," the lead single from LCD Soundsystem's upcoming album, This is Happening, many fans of James Murphy's previous material are less than enthused. Truth be told, I was skeptical of "Drunk Girls" status as the album's first single after hearing the song a few weeks ago. My initial response was one of disappointment and unease for the album to come. "Really?" I thought to myself. "This is the best they could come up with?" Thankfully, with repeated listens, "Drunk Girls" grew on me. The song is short, sweet and raw in its energy. Early comparisons placed it alongside "Daft Punk is Playing At My House" from LCD Soundsystem's self-titled debut, and "North American Scum" off of what will now be dubbed "the middle album," Sound of Silver. Truth be told, "Drunk Girls" may be better than both--the songwriting is funnier, and catchier, and the arrangement--down to the ascending "Drunk Boys" harmony, guitar solo, and key board counter melodies--is nice and thick without overwhelming the song's momentum. What really gives "Drunk Girls" its edge, though, is James Murphy's assured but raw, unhinged to the point of almost--but not quite--losing control vocal delivery. The song is easily among his most playful and engaging performances. On the merit of Murphy's singing alone (and kudos to the back up vocals as well--even though they mostly sound like Murphy, too) "Drunk Girls" is an excellent addition to the LCD Soundsystem discography.

In a way, the song was both a brilliant and awful choice for lead single. On the one hand, the song will immediately appeal to many fans of pop music, dance music, and indie rock. It's catchy, immediate, fun, and great to play loudly in the car while driving around town. On the other hand, it wasn't the best choice to entice fans of the band's previous work. Sound of Silver brought a ton of new fans into the fold, in large part on the strength of the album's epic one-two punch of "Someone Great" and "All My Friends," songs that considered mortality and relationships in ways that this kind of music isn't supposed to do. "Drunk Girls" doesn't really do either, and its easy to see how fans of Sound of Silver might be a bit put off that "Drunk Girls" is the first glimpse into Murphy's upcoming album. In that respect, perhaps "I Can Change" would have been a better choice of lead single.

But it wasn't, and that's fine. Those who appreciate LCD Soundsystem's previous work will check out This is Happening, and they won't be disappointed. They'll probably even spend some time with "Drunk Girls" and realize how awesome it is...

Until then, I'll leave you with the video for "Drunk Girls" (note: for those who haven't heard the song yet, the video features sound and singing that aren't part of the song--it's awesome-fun though, so watch it):

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