The Songs That Saved James Murphy’s Life

In May 2017, LCD Soundsystem released “Call the Police,” their first new music in seven years. An indulgent self-lament that morphs into a middle-aged rallying call, the song is both brilliant and heartbreaking—that is, once you finish rolling your eyes at the fact that it exists in the first place. Since the first LCD Soundsystem reunion show was announced at the start of 2016, James Murphy spent the next year doing exactly what he told everyone he wouldn’t do: cashing in on the residual fervor generated by his past success, and on the reunion economy at large.

It’s in this transitional period of Murphy’s career that his playlist for the Ten Songs That Saved Your Life site (he actually chose 15*) take on a new context. His list includes the obvious forebearers of traditional rock, LES post-punk, and quintessential European electronica. They are highly indicative of his own music, which has often subtly reimagined sounds already thought to have hit their apex. But keep in mind that on this mix, Murphy is not flaunting his inspiration; he’s talking salvation. So much of his music has dressed itself in sardonic humour before it sucks all the air out of the room with its unabashed honesty. It’s a skill that the best of the best share. Whether it’s coming from Roberta Flack or David Bowie, there is something both comforting and emancipatory about someone else speaking your truth better than you ever could.

Perhaps this is why Murphy’s own resurgence has been so unnervingly easy to swallow. When artists are this impressive, sometimes catalyzing entire subgenres through their work, it’s difficult to argue why you shouldn’t pedestalize them. On the other hand, it makes it similarly easy to give them a pass when they get under your skin.

* Some of Murphy’s selections are not available on Spotify and thus not included on this playlist. You can listen to his original version here.