Five years ago LCD Soundsystem ended in an unconventional and poetic way: On its own terms. There was no one going to rehab, no deaths, no one sleeping with the drummer's wife, just an excellent band that had run its course the members decided. Fans didn't take it lightly—they've been begging for the band to get back together since they played their now-legendary final show on April 2, 2011. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was the right one, frontman James Murphy assured us in a documentary about those last shows.
Whether they finally caved into fan demands, or they were offered an insane amount of money (which they almost certainly were!), LCD Soundsystem will return nearly five years to the day as a headliner of Coachella Music Festival. Risking a nearly perfect streak of albums, LCD Soundsystem will also tour and release new music, Murphy announced in a blog post yesterday.
"we're not just playing coachella. we're playing all over. we're not just having some reunion tour. we're releasing a record (sometime this year—still working on it, actually), so this isn't a victory lap or anything, which wouldn't be of much interest to us. this is just the bus full of substitute teachers back from their coffee break with new music and the same weird gear."
But it will not be the same LCD Soundsystem that takes the stage in front of tens of thousands of people at Coachella in April or pours out of your speakers from the new album. LCD Soundsystem ended on April 2, 2011. Everything that happens next is, for better or worse, "LCD Soundsystem After The Breakup". This, as it has with many artists who returned from a self-imposed hiatus, brings on a number of internal and external pressures. Ask Jay-Z, who has never yet lived up to his iconic farewell album The Black Album in his subsequent four releases. Or OutKast, who reunited in 2014 for Coachella and a tour, and whose live shows seemed like a phoned-in money grab (I even saw two of them). Or Guns N' Roses, with whom LCD will be sharing headlining duties this year and whose own reunion doesn't seem all that promising. (Let's not forget Chinese Democracy.) But there are also beloved bands who have done it right, like Neutral Milk Hotel, who gave fans one last run of shows. Sleater-Kinney came back last year to release one of their finest albums. Dr. Dre returned for Coachella in 2012, and since then he's gotten back to his roots, released a critically acclaimed comeback album, and mentored the career of Kendrick Lamar. And thankfully, LCD Soundsystem knows the challenges of doing this:
"The only thing we can do now is get back into the studio and finish this record, and make it as fucking good as we can possibly make it. it needs to be better than anything we've done before, in my mind, because it won't have the help of being the first time. and we have to play better than we've ever played, frankly. every show has to be better than the best show we've played before for anyone to even say "well, that was good. i mean, not as good as they used to be. but, you know. it was good." we know all that. which is healthy for us, because it means we go back to war, like in the beginning. for us it was always war, but now it's really with ourselves. maybe we have a chance to make it right."
For a band that has always played on music nostalgia, LCD Soundsystem will be challenging its fans to compare the new LCD to the old. This could be an amazing new chapter for LCD, it could be a total disaster, but either way, the band we've been obsessing with for the last five years will be returning objectively different. We dare Murphy to follow his own advice: "Never change, never change, never change, never change."