Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #1 LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver


Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until we unveil our #1 album of the decade!

Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.

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#1 LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver

Doesn't it make sense that an old hand would rise to the top? Careening through the upper echelons of these lists, we eventually hit a sort of blissful cruise control where every single album feels essential, complete and lasting, with no wasted notes or skippable segments – albums with energy and innovation spilling out between the cracks and around the edges of every song. So how do you choose one as the absolute best? Deadringer was the keenest soulful semi-throwback of the 2000s. Kid A cornered our freakiest experimental longings. Campfire Headphase bested hypertextured electronic music and Nite Versions nailed the dance side of the same genre. One Word Extinguisher crunched us in a gritty ball and sent us reeling. So how did LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver climb to the top of this elite list?

In solidifying our #1s, we looked for an innovator among innovators, something especially vivid and honest, something natural and relentlessly pure. Sound of Silver is that album. James Murphy's dedication to analog sensibility, his willingness to go spacious and clean when the entire music world was trending toward a heavy trebly mess, his complex and generous take on human emotion – it all wraps into one pristine celebration of our flaws. Strange that the voice of our generation (sorry, Kanye!) is at least a decade older than most of us, but since we're declaring Sound of Silver his golden megaphone, isn't it fortunate that the wisest man is at the helm? He can stay young with us if Sound of Silver is the type of floodlight we can rely on to spill some insight into the future.

This ain't no Oberstian affair, either, wherein the spectrum of human emotion is rather lavishly and pointedly displayed, like a frail empress in a gilt throne. It's less extravagant than that: Murphy realizes there's no need to dress up what anchors the basest of human emotions. "Someone Great" is buzzy but melancholic, fluctuating between warmth and helplessness: "The worst is all the lovely weather / I'm stunned it's not raining / The coffee isn't even bitter / Because what's the difference?" In the payoff segments, the lyrics open up to interpretation: "and it keeps coming, and it keeps coming, and it keeps coming til the day it stops…" – where "it" refers to just about any of the weary but necessary bits of life. This spills into "All My Friends," nearly a recipe to remedy the crushing routine laid out in the last track: avoid cool, stick close to the ones you love, let life play itself out instead of letting it overrun you. This one-two anchor in the middle of the album highlights Murphy's beautifully simple mindset: nostalgia's fine as long as you don't drown in it; the present is very much salvageable, so don't waste it.

The rest of the album, as is its trademark, is very much undisguised. "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" is the necessary homage to the Big Apple (considering how inextricably tied Murphy is to the city), but without the simple glimmer of kitschier odes. It's stripped, unstable and choked up, but the hushed honesty delivers immaculate closure. "Time to Get Away" and "North American Scum" highlight the more nervous elements of young living, proving it's not all unsubstantiated yearning for some great lifestyle we don't actually deserve. And "Watch the Tapes" gets a little tongue-in-cheek political, a dangerous angle (anyone can talk, but who actually acts?) were it not for the supreme intelligence behind the bite. Every damn track on this album is another facet of the human psyche, and wrapped together, Sound of Silver is a breathing bulk that represents our most honest selves. Musicians take note: Murphy put himself out there in the most impressive way, simply by chronicling with preciseness the lifestyle that wraps around him. Sheer honesty and impeccable production chops make this our #1 album of the decade. Take a bow, James – you deserve it.

- Phillip Taylor-Parker


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