RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
In the early 2000s, the New York band LCD Soundsystem blended dance music and punk to critical acclaim. They put out three beloved records. And then in 2011, the band broke up. Singer James Murphy and the rest of the group said goodbye in a sold out show at New York's Madison Square Garden.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM: (Unintelligible).
MARTIN: Well, apparently, the band has changed their mind because LCD Soundsystem is back. They've got a new album out called "American Dream." With us to talk about the band's legacy and their new album is music journalist Lizzy Goodman. She is the author of "Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock And Roll In New York City 2001-2011." Hey, Lizzy. Welcome to the show.
LIZZY GOODMAN: Thank you so much for having me.
MARTIN: Let's go back to the aughts because it's just fun to say the aughts. The 2000s, when LCD Soundsystem was blowing up, essentially...
MARTIN: ...What distinguished them so much back then?
GOODMAN: I think that you're talking about a moment where Internet culture is rising. There's sort of this sense of colliding genres. James Murphy made this very sort of literate rock and roll. So that sense of blending the intellectualism of thinking about music with the feeling of a great dance rock band really connected with people.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVEMENT")
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM: (Singing) It's like a discipline without the discipline of all the discipline. It's like a culture without the effort of all the culture.
MARTIN: Because he was approaching music as - not an outsider. I mean, he was a creative force in music. But he was a producer. And he had set up this label. And he had this kind of holistic approach to music.
GOODMAN: Exactly. And the rock star incarnation of all that was sort of the last thing to come around for James Murphy. So it was, like - now we think of these people that do all of those things as sort of standard.
GOODMAN: But at the time, having your own record label, producing a bunch of songs for other people, and then sort of, oh, yeah, I guess I'll also form my own band now was pretty revolutionary (laughter).
MARTIN: So they put out just three albums. And then the band announced that they were breaking up. Why?
GOODMAN: Right. Why does James do what he does - a question that many of his collaborators and many journalists have been asking for years. I mean, you have to think of him as the ultimate rock scholar. Like, in addition to being a brilliant sort of soundsmith (ph), he knows music incredibly well and is also very self-aware.
And there was always a sense from the beginning of LCD of let's get out before it gets stale and sort of an awareness of the kind of canon of rock bands that have faded away, shall we say, instead of burnt out.
MARTIN: All right, let's talk about the new album. Is it worth the wait?
GOODMAN: Well, what wait - right? - because we weren't anticipating they were ever coming back.
MARTIN: That's right. There was no wait.
MARTIN: Is it any good?
GOODMAN: I think it's incredible. I mean...
MARTIN: Oh, really?
GOODMAN: Yeah. I do. It's gloomier in an interesting - like, it's darker and a little bit heavier. But I like that. It's a stormy time, man. Let's speak truth.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOW DO YOU SLEEP?")
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM: (Singing) Standing on the shore, watching for you.
MARTIN: Yeah. So that's dark.
GOODMAN: I think it sounds like Bauhaus doing the "Wizard Of Oz" soundtrack or something like that (laughter).
MARTIN: So has he talked at all about why he felt like he wanted to bring LCD Soundsystem back?
GOODMAN: He has. I mean, people have been asking him that question a lot. And I think he's answered it in a couple of different ways. Some of them have gotten him into some trouble in terms of the way people have read his quotes - the idea of some sort of grand plan to manipulate fans into coming to the final show. And then like...
GOODMAN: It's a long game. It's a long game he's playing if that's what's going on. It's like, and guess what? Six years later, you're going to get the joke, right? I mean, it's just - here's my thing. If you're an LCD fan and your argument is it's a betrayal for them to be playing, how do those two things compute?
MARTIN: That seems silly. It just seems silly.
GOODMAN: How does that hold water just on a purely philosophical level?
MARTIN: Lizzy Goodman is the author of "Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock And Roll In New York City 2001-2011." We've been talking about LCD Soundsystem and their new album. Hey, Lizzy, thank you so much.
GOODMAN: Thank you so much for having me.
(SOUNDBITE OF LCD SOUNDSYSTEM'S "I USED TO")
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