Red flags are raised to half-mast when an iconic, beloved indie rock band throttles an album title into top gear pastiche, as we learned the hard way a few weeks ago. Just look at that fucking cover. The worst artwork of the year boasting the most irascible title of the year. The gleaming sarcasm of American Dream forebodes of empty cynicism – of James Murphy finally, finally losing his edge – but it’s a double-bluff. American Dream is fucking fantastic.

LCD Soundsystem is a band very much of their time. As the centurion of DFA Records (Murphy’s label with Tim Goldsworthy and Jonathan Galkin), they were a band who emanated from, and subsequently appropriated, that early 00s guitar-rock-is-cool again scene encapsulated by Is This It. While The Strokes and co. conquered the planet with their suited-up and shredded grunge-ish, LCD discovered appetites for the winking urbanity, for self-effacing uncoolness that transfigured towards (slightly) cool by virtue of self-awareness and fanatical reverence towards music. LCD and their label pals – including The Rapture, Hot Chip and Hercules & Love Affair – dispersed new wave and high energy-inspired disco punk like it was hairdressers’ leaflets, and speaking intimately to those who love to dance but do so forever weighed down by their incorrigible self-consciousness. And that, is a fucking lot of people.

I’m wary of banging the Everything-Now-is-wank bongo drum too feverishly, but parallels come instinctively, and it’d be disingenuous to ignore their enduring intersecting. Both are bands who peaked ten years ago – Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible arrived March 6th 2007 with LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver March 12th – now reorienting themselves in a scene wholly changed, struggling with a language they barely speak. Ten years is a long time in indie rock. 2017 is, gloriously, the purview of exciting women artists, queer artists, artists of colour, exploring subject matter and sounds untouched ten years ago. There is a systemic disconnect between the Great artists now and then. Both Everything Now and American Dream are cultural approximations; they might not be explicit – or even deliberate - responses to today’s indie rock, but they’re inveterately tied to it.

The disparity lies between how each band grapples with their past legacies now that such legacies are antiques; what do these legacies have left to say, or retroactively correct what they’ve previously said? To abridge; Arcade Fire have trampled their open-hearted earnestness into dust, while LCD Soundsystem have dusted themselves down to parade their self-effacing – now feasibly archaic – uncoolness like a uniform, displaying the wisdom it’s reaped in its absence.

At first, the uncoolness grins as unflappable confidence. The two singles released jointly a few months ago – ‘Call The Police’ and the title track – extend the Gen X despair and carefree debauchery with which LCD are synonymous, and both offered the same depth and invention in melody, hooks and lyrical barbs that we’d hoped for. ‘Call The Police’ is the record’s most overtly political song, building and building into a polemical frenzy, while ‘Other Voices’ hails from that breed of funny, lacerating introspection which Murphy could sleepwalk into a surging monster.

Even when they’re neurotic, they’re assured. On ‘Tonite’ a trundling, combustible bassline shifts our eyes chartwards as Murphy observes – not disdains – that “every song I hear is about tonight, tonight, tonight.” Yet, while this refrain indelibly evokes the euphoric, decadent immediacy of a ‘Drunk Girls’, ‘Yeah (Crass Version)’ or ‘North American Scum’, it also wheezes with a disquiet that reverberates through American Dream. It’s the cloying, fatalistic obsession with time and age, and the passage of time and the implacability of age, that has monopolised Murphy’s aphorisms and witticisms since 2002’s ‘Losing My Edge’, spanning monoliths like ‘All My Friends’ and ‘Home’, but there’s a freshly palpable anxiety humming out of earshot, as if – only naturally – getting older and becoming something approaching obsolete has aggravated this fixation, earmarked poignantly by “You made me throw my hands at my own traditions/ And then you’d have a laugh at my inhibitions,” on ‘I Used To’, and distressingly by “You won’t live out the cocaine” on ‘How Do You Sleep’. It sounds like every sound and idea they’ve previously flaunted or flirted with has been fragmented and reassembled – and it still pops and climbs and troughs and giggles – but now rebuilt there’s blanketed melancholy too, ecstasy embossed by weariness, the faltering of the high’s epiphany.

And then it hits me. American Dream isn’t irascibly ironic, it’s ruefully sad. The burgeoning synths on the title track restrain Murphy’s mid-sex discontent from boiling over, but not from bearing itself; “look what happened when you were dreaming/ Then punch yourself in the face.” It’s not as simple as the American Dream constituting myth or the political and corporate elite diffusing America – any highschooler with a Kerouac could write that – it’s the inequality of the American Dream and the arbitrariness of the political diffusion, where happiness is not clearly defined by material goods, or kind-hearted family and friends, or by any measure of success; and compassion isn’t clearly defined by background or political leanings. Everything is random, meaningful connection is difficult, and contentment is evasive, and we need emotional haircuts to stay afloat; “it’s better to me/ It’s much better than it used to be/ ‘Cause I got eyes going every which way.” Murphy still has an edge over most of us; it’s just in worldview rather than underground 12”s.

This hasn’t been a critical review in the traditional sense, and I realise that that reflects badly on me as a critic; but American Dream isn’t a traditional album, at least not in my mind. It’s a post-greatest hits album, an acclimatisation of their sound to a world that’s surpassed using sardonic disco as an antidote for its ills. Each song compulsively and unabashedly recalls fragments from their oeuvre but when unified these fragments are cleaner, more assured, and more essential, than possibly anything they’ve thrown at us before. From head to toe, front to back, it bangs; but more importantly, it actually has something new to say. We need something sadder to dance to.