Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
For ten years, from 2001 to 2011, producer James Murphy wrote, recorded and performed music as LCD Soundsystem. The band, nearly a one-man show in the studio but fronted by Murphy as a more traditional rock group on stage, played an almost-familiar dance/rock hybrid that could hit euphoric highs even as the lyrics were characterized by a bitter self-awareness. They were pretty big by the time Murphy called it quits last year, capping off his career as a Big Rock Star with a four-hour show at Madison Square Garden that featured a host of indie luminaries as guests.
That final show will soon be released in full on DVD, but there is also a documentary about Murphy, the last days of LCD Soundsystem, and the aftermath of Murphy’s career as a minor rock star. Called Shut Up and Play the Hits, directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, the film will premiere at Sundance, and the trailer is below.
The obvious question might be: is this movie going to mean anything to people who didn’t like LCD Soundsystem? I can’t say, not having seen it. But Murphy called it quits because he turned 40 last year and realized that, at a certain point, you just have to walk away. What better time to do that than when things are at a peak? (See also: The Police, pre-reunion tour.) When bands keep gunning forward, powered by the momentum of 30-year old songs, I think there’s something valuable in putting an end to something before it gets stale. And having done so, what do you do next?
I’m hoping the film addresses that to some extent, and if it does so, there might be something here even for people who weren’t caught up in Murphy’s particular brand of dance-music magic.