LCD Soundsystem — “All My Friends”

Released: 5.28.07

Peak: Did not chart

A pair of piano tracks racing in circles like Steve Reich set on 45 rpm — that’s how it starts. Except not quite: James Murphy’s story itself begins in media res, as rants will do. Murphy has actively courted his role as indie’s Dutch uncle, its ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a sad sack old enough to remember when they called this stuff indie rock, young enough to have helped nudge that suffix out of the mix with dance music. On “All My Friends,” he frets over “the ways we show our age,” watches the years pass five at a time, sees a “face like a dad” reflected in an airplane window.

But Murphy has tapped into our era’s premature sense of aged obsolescence before this. Here he also keys into another definitive aspect our cultural moment: the restless wandering of post-middle-class America. As with “Maps,” the impetus for “All My Friends” rises out the perpetual motion of the touring musician–a fate that’s become, if not universal, at least indicative of the life of the young, creative, and marginally successful. In an age where everyone’s an entrepreneur, we’re guaranteed the freedom of never having to not work, especially when we’re having fun, and “here we go/ Like a sales force into the night” sums up the fate of self-promoting content-providers with Prufrock-worthy irony.

As the song winds down, Murphy repeats “If I could see all my friends tonight” like a OCD koan, like those keyboard tracks themselves, mistaking minimalism for compulsion, seeking a panacea for a deeper alienation outside of his control. But all your friends can’t save you now. And Murphy doesn’t really fear aging–he fears the loss of youth, because that immature energy can still mistake the relentless grind of internet-era fun for something like excitement. But like JC Mellencamp used to tell the kids, life goes on, long after the thrill of losing your edge has gone. And on and on and on. In fact, that’s how it starts.

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