ALBUM | When the electro-rock collective LCD Soundsystem halfheartedly announced its retirement in 2011, there was immediate incredulity that it would actually take. Sure enough, songwriter James Murphy and company are back again with their fourth studio album AMERICAN DREAM, a bittersweet, hour-plus slow-burner of a record. Murphy has always been a master of seamlessly blending witty, dance-floor-ready jams with laconic reflections on the artistic process, drugs, hipsterdom and the perils of going gray and getting large around the middle; here, he's delivered a handful of pulsating bangers ("Other Voices," "Tonite" and the insistent single "Call the Police") alongside some of his most melancholy songs to date, including "Oh Baby," the title track and the 12-minute closer "Black Screen."
FILM | Obituaries are not actually about death, one of the interviewees in the documentary OBIT. reminds us. They are, in reality, celebrations of memorable lives. Director Vanessa Gould's film, now streaming on Amazon Prime, is a look inside the New York Times obituary department and the notable people its writers profile — artists, authors, activists, athletes. It also examines the ways in which the Times broke away from traditional obit structure, takes us into the bowels of the paper's clip archives (known as "the morgue") and hovers around the newsroom as deadlines loom. It's both an engaging behind-the-scenes portrait and a love letter to print media.
BOOK | Like her spellbinding 2014 debut novel Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng's new book LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE explores themes of race, class and intergenerational secrets through a serpentine plot that's as compelling as any thriller. Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in the late 1990s, the novel revolves around a seemingly perfect upper-middle-class family, a wayward mother and daughter who rent a room from them and the Chinese woman whose custody battle disrupts the solitude of their well-manicured suburb. Ng allows us to burrow into the minds of her characters, and we seemingly disappear into her carefully observed world. This is the kind of book that you pick up and won't put down for hours. ♦