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The LCD Soundsystem Holiday Special Aims for Nostalgia to Mixed Effect: Recap

The Eric Wareheim-directed special is highlighted by LCD Soundsystem's debut performance of "Christmas Will Break Your Heart"

lcd soundsystem the holiday special recap review amazon music
LCD Soundsystem (Amazon Music)
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    Even after COVID forced LCD Soundsystem to cancel the remaining three shows of their 20-night Brooklyn Steel residency, the band hasn’t given up on trying to keep things jolly. On December 22nd, James Murphy and co. brought the holiday cheer to Amazon Prime Video with their part comedy, part concert film Christmas special, appropriately titled The LCD Soundsystem Holiday Special

    Directed by Eric Wareheim (of Tim & Eric fame), the hour-long special aims to capture nostalgia twofold. It opens with a parody of a ’90s sitcom titled “All My Friends,” in which Wareheim stands in as Murphy in a fictionalized version of LCD Soundsystem. With Macaulay Culkin portraying drummer Pat Mahoney, the band fumbles through assembling the perfect setlist for the night’s gig. Spanning their 2005 debut to their 2017 album, American Dream, the special invites LCD Soundsystem fans to reminisce about their favorite pre-pandemic live music memories.

    After a round of applause from a “studio audience,” the faux-LCD Soundsystem exit the “All My Friends” house, allowing for the real LCD Soundsystem to take the stage at Brooklyn Steel. They begin their set with “On Repeat,” an early deep cut, before heading into popular favorite “I Can Change” and a run of more recent tracks including “Tonite.”

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    But noticeably, the special is missing many songs that make LCD Soundsystem sets so exciting: fan-favorite hits like “Someone Great,” “Dance Yrself Clean,” and “Home” are all noticeably absent from the set — naming the psuedo-sitcom “All My Friends” without including the beloved song of the same name on the setlist frankly feels cruel.

    In-between the sparse setlist are spliced bits of the “sitcom” portion of the special, which aside from a few halfhearted chuckles, don’t bring much to the table. More often than, it feels just as bland as the shows it’s riffing: for a band as creative as LCD Soundsystem, their sitcom could’ve benefitted by at least attempting to push the envelope comedically. Culkin’s legacy as an oddball is wasted, while the rest of the cast — aside from Luenell, playing the band’s tour manager, Andrea — can’t save the tedious script.

    But the special does end on a relatively high note, as LCD Soundsystem perform their 2015 holiday anthem, “Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” live for the first time. With the added benefit of a string section, the performance offers a much-needed sense of exclusivity to the special, which otherwise feels rather anticlimactic.

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    Ultimately, The LCD Soundsystem Holiday Special is an entirely innocuous way to spend an hour over your Christmas break. But it’s not representative of the band’s storied legacy, and ultimately forgettable.

    Watch The LCD Soundsystem Holiday Special on Amazon Prime Video.

    Setlist:
    On Repeat
    I Can Change
    Other Voices
    Tonite
    American Dream
    Thrills
    Oh Baby
    Emotional Haircut
    Christmas Will Break Your Heart

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