LCD Soundsystem

"Losing My Edge" (DFA)

The retro '80s fetish is in full force these days, with acts such as Fischerspooner, W.I.T., and Felix da Housecat rocking bubbly synth-pop and rehashed new wave, and leg warmers, skinny ties, and faux-hawk hairdos turning up all over. As the catalyst behind the revival, Larry Tee's Electroclash festival, crosses the country, it's reasonable to expect that this cycle of back-to-the-futurism will continue to expand -- with a backlash sure to follow.

In fact, LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge" single proves that the backlash is already here, but what distinguishes LCD's James Murphy is that he clearly appreciates the object of his critique. On first inspection, the eight-minute song sounds suspiciously like the kind of lo-fi, electro-punk recidivism that can be heard everywhere from the Cat Club and Arrow Bar to MTV. Over an infectious beatbox rhythm, Murphy -- one half of DFA Records, New York's label of the moment -- delivers squawking synthesizers, growling bass guitar, and a rambling monologue that sounds like Mark E. Smith of the Fall. But in a genre where most songs seem to be about sex, robots, or sex with robots, Murphy's lyrics stand out. "I'm losing my edge," he complains, bemoaning the upstart hipsters with bigger record collections and faster Internet connections. Playing the character of the most annoying guy on the scene (and a compulsive liar to boot), he proceeds to list his impeccable credentials: the first Can show in 1969, the early Suicide practices "in a loft in New York City" in 1974, the initial Paradise Garage disco sets with Larry Levan, and the Ecstasy-driven parties on the beaches of Ibiza.

Thick with one-liners like "I've never been wrong/ I used to work in a record store," the tune is far more than just a cheap shot at electroclash; it's a none-too-subtle jab at musical obsessives, and a trenchant critique of the music industry's seesawing trends. "I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables," says Murphy, barely pausing before he continues, "I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars." As the track builds to its grinding climax, Murphy resorts to name-checking influential bands both famous and obscure, but the tune's so breathlessly funky, you'll have to choose between dancing and laughing.

Currently available only as a 12-inch single, "Losing My Edge" will form the centerpiece of DFA's inaugural compilation (available toward the end of the year), alongside the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" and other singles from the catalog. Of course, with the label's résumé -- co-owner Tim Goldsworthy is a veteran of U.K. trip-hop act U.N.K.L.E., and recording artist Juan MacLean contributes to Vicemagazine -- the joke's clearly on DFA as well. Perhaps the imprint should call the collection Glass Houses.

 
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