Alone among dance-music royalty, James Murphy’s greatest attribute is his “normal dude” status. While his peers dress up like robots and put on airs, Murphy exudes a snarky, slacker-like demeanor. As LCD Soundsystem, his songs draw from punk and pop as much as they do disco and techno, often filled with sly, self-
deprecating lyrics about the dance scene’s tireless mania to remain cutting-edge, or confessional admissions about his romantic insecurities. Perhaps that’s why indie-rock fans have adopted him as one of their own: His music seems warm and accessible in a way dance music rarely does.
All of this is a long way to explain why 45:33, despite its considerable strengths, seems to be unworthy of Murphy’s specific talents. An album-length instrumental piece, initially commissioned by Nike to accompany runners on their jogs, 45:33 consists of six untitled tracks that build from a slow, bubbling opening to an ecstatic conclusion.
This isn’t workout music that favors monotony as a way to propel exercisers toward the finish line; instead, there’s something remarkably human about the way the suite of tunes gathers its momentum and hits its stride. But still, without lyrics, Murphy’s grand experiment feels unnecessarily restricted, especially when 45:33 uses — as its centerpiece — the sighing keyboard patterns from “Someone Great,” the melancholy highlight of his stellar Sound of Silver album. Without the poignancy of the words, the song is merely good chill-out music, something any of Murphy’s contemporaries could have done. But you don’t buy an LCD Soundsystem record to hear him sound like other people.