“‘All My Friends’ is about aging, feeling disconnected, simultaneously reckoning with and missing your past. James Murphy turned 37 the year it was released, and it should appeal to people in their 30s. And yet Murphy’s impressionistic verses evoke more widespread experiences than chronologically approaching middle age. This millennium was kicked off with 9/11, and as it progressed we became able to carry entire decades of pop culture and history in our pockets. All of this ages us before our time, whether these were the years in which we grew up, or whether these were the years where we ourselves had children. 'You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan/ And the next five years trying to be with your friends again,’ Murphy sings. That could be about the struggles of aging and figuring yourself out, but it could also be about the seeming impossibility of navigating the people and culture around you when 2010 suggests 2001, 1987, 1964, and 1999 as much as it suggests itself.
It’s too overwhelming to face that all at once. Is it then any wonder that perhaps the two defining behaviors of our era have become nostalgia and ironic detachment, that we prefer our world through the perfectly faded haze of Instagram or the performative quips of Twitter? Even if you’d argue that the last thirteen years have been primarily characterized by a push and pull between irony and earnestness, it all stems from a sense of disassociation from our time and place — we intentionally say things we don’t mean so we don’t have to bare ourselves to all the noise that comes with infinite digital voices, or we overcompensate and overshare as a proposed salve to the supposedly corrosive effects of ironic living. Murphy buried some of the most earnest pop songs of the last ten years under a veneer of ironic wit. 'All My Friends’ taps into that same disassociation. It’s like, to paraphrase an old Don Draper quote, watching your life, knowing it’s right there, and futilely trying to break into it. That’s the engine behind 'All My Friends,’ behind its oscillation between sentimentality and one-liners. Thanks to the speed and abstractions through which we live our lives in the new millennium, you no longer need to be 37 to feel that way.”