When James Murphy, Tim Goldsworthy and their business partner Jonathan Galkin launched the DFA label back in 2001, predictability probably wasn’t one of the keynotes of the mission statement. But in the ensuing 13 years, as LCD Soundsystem became the hippest dance band in the planet, and Goldsworthy and Murphy had a less-than-amicable split in 2013, predictable is exactly what the New York label has become. From Holy Ghost! to the Juan MacLean to Shit Robot there exists something easily pegged as the “DFA sound,” and it grows more recognizable with each release.
A collaboration between erstwhile LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney (most of the vocals and lyrics) and Juan MacLean keyboard whiz Dennis “Jee Day” McNany (most of the music), Museum of Love is perhaps the most DFA-ish album ever released on DFA. Mahoney croons — and occasionally yelps — somewhat sad and gently accusatory lyrics over McNany’s elegant analog synths, all of which have disco-house beats in varying tempos reminiscent of older records like New Order’s “Your Silent Face,” the second Yazoo album and the more melodic end of early Chicago house music. “Down South,” “FATHERS” and “The Who’s Who of Who Cares” are especially rich and tuneful; everything else is in perfectly good retro-disco taste. Loyal DFA fans and ’80s nostalgists will like Museum of Love, and rightly so.
Nevertheless, you can’t help wondering how many times one label can release the same record without some kind of change of direction. While James Murphy continues to dabble in production and ponder the end of the LCD Soundsystem/Goldsworthy era, his label is losing its edge.