The newest work by LCD Soundsystem isn’t really an album at all — consisting of a sole 46-minute long track, it resembles an electronic composition more than anything else. Titled 45:33, after “the RPMs of records,” the track is actually slightly longer, reaching 45:58.
Initially commissioned by Nike in late 2006 as running music, the composition has only been available on iTunes until its re-release by DFA records this month. Along with the workout composition, three additional tracks have been tagged onto the CD.
Compared to their usual intentionally rough style, 45:33 shows a surprising melodic inclination, with clear emphasis on instrumental precision and catchy beats. In another wise move on the part of LCD, unlike much of their music, there are no inane lyrics intoned in a flat, morose, unpleasant voice. In fact, 45:33 is almost completely devoid of lyrics, only using them as a background element. This works well to match the changing style as the song progresses. Split into six movements smoothly weaved together, the electronic composition evokes similarly lengthy classical symphonies, and in its own contemporary right, it is an equally impressive masterpiece.
Opening with electronic/dance-inspired beats, Movement I progresses into a more downtempo piano groove (a bit slower, but a steady pace), then into to the electronic synth and xylophone instrumentals from their new single “Someone Great” (even lighter sounding still, but easy on the ears). Movement III is surprisingly the weakest point in the album and the least likely to be something you’d listen to while running. For one, the xylophone-esque loop riff gets dauntingly repetitive. The song then smoothly transitions and slows the rhythm into a funky groove — this is where LCD shows their versatility the most. Background vocals in a low octave fashion aren't subtle at all and stick out as terribly unneeded and unpleasant. Thankfully the xylophone and bad vocals give way to a lively acid-jazz beat with plenty of horns, making the funk of the fifth movement the most memorable.
However, 45:33 is over before you know it, making one wonder if 46 minutes have really passed. As a workout accompaniment, it’s a very appropriate achievement, as the seamlessness of the movements keeps the beat continuous and the time from dragging. This flow is a double-edged blade, though, in that no particular aspect of the 45:33 is identifiably astonishing. Also, you can’t skip one movement without losing the continuity of the composition.
Although flawed by occasional redundancy and horribly incongruous vocals mid-composition, 45:33 shows the impressive versatility and melodic capabilities of LCD Soundsystem. Despite its inherent purpose as an exercise track, the album will best serve as background music to pass the time faster, whether you're running, working or pretending to study.
4 stars out of 5