LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends": The Great Millennial Freakout
The people they call millennials have had a rough go of it. Social media, job uncertainty, financial hardships, feeling like world leaders don't match your passions, and a general sense of anxiety about how the world is going in general. Such a disparate group doesn't make sense to have a theme song - but if they did, LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" might come close.
Anchored by an insistent piano riff and pounding beat, frontman James Murphy sings about the simultaneous joys and anxieties of being young and carefree from the perspective of someone who is not nearly as young and carefree in the present tense. "It's the memory of our betters / That are keeping us on our feet," he sings. "You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan / And the next five years trying to be with your friends again."
It's pretty heavy stuff (on the album Sound of Silver, the song stretches to seven minutes), but there's some universal truths there. Stereogum might have put it best when they called the song a "summation of the experience of the millennium, the sense of wanting everything all at once, having access to everything all at once, and ultimately not feeling so much freed as paralyzed at the inescapable weight that comes with carrying all that with you."
The fickle nature of time and the disconnect we feel toward that - the things we like couldn't be that old, right? - makes for a wild combination, and LCD Soundsystem, a band that sound like every pop/rock/dance group you loved and yet none of them at the same time, really sold all those emotions.
Murphy himself was pretty subdued about explaining the song's appeal to Mojo in 2008 (after the song was declared the best of the year by publications like Pitchfork, Mojo and a reader poll in The Guardian):
I don't know. It's sad-ish and people are old. I was purposefully trying to chase a feeling I got from Joy Division's "Transmission," which starts off so gentle, and becomes so f--king overwhelming. By the time he's going, "Dance, dance, dance to the radio!" your head's exploding. And that Arthur Russell song, Dinosaur L's "Go Bang" (where) I don't know who did the vocal but it's just like, "I just wanna see all my friends at once, I'd do anything to get the chance to go back." It's the simplest thing I could imagine and it's f--king beautiful. It's always been a really important theme for me and it's nice to write a song that comes from it.