LCD Soundsystem’s career was impossibly neat. In 10 years, James Murphy released three holy albums, all offal-free incarnations of what happens when punks grow up and start making dance music. At the band’s height they then had the foresight to call it a day; their suicide pact a 4-hour show at Madison Square Gardens. Murphy was pulling the plug before he became too famous to ride the subway and Shut Up And Play The Hits is the documenting of that show (or wake) and a couple of days either side of it.

In many respects, it’s a lot like Jay-Z’s own funeral march at the Garden, captured in 2004’s Fade To Black. The backstage chatter; the hefty chunks of live footage; the sense of bitter sweet occasion – it’s all there. But where we never really bought it that Jigga Man was really dead, LCD definitely feels like it’s over. And where Jay-Z gave us his pre-match thoughts, Murphy also allows us to see the aftermath – a freshly retired man with time on his hands.

In a cinematic sense, the live footage is neither here nor there, playing like any other live show you’ve seen on film, albeit with a soundtrack that reinvented disco. The songs themselves are as outstanding as ever, but when either side of them is footage of Murphy contemplating his career and life (during a press interview a week before the show and to himself a day after) you’ve got to ask if you need to hear or see the whole of ‘North American Scum’, even if Arcade Fire are on backing vocals. (Although, to be fair, there is a case for the entirety of closing number ‘New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down’ making the edit – the film’s poignant high, unsurprisingly).

Now 42, Murphy is the understated, modest pop star, distancing himself from his extraordinary heroes like David Bowie and Lou Reed, and yet here there is something special about him, possibly in his everyman’s coffee obsession, probably in his vulnerability and a sadness that eventually ends in tears. We should probably cry too – there won’t be another LCD Soundsystem.

By Stuart Stubbs

Originally published in issue 39 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. June 2012