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Camp Cope reckon LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends is ”the perfect song”

It’s been covered by everyone from John Cale to Franz Ferdinand. A sort of New Order meets “Heroes”-era Bowie meets Killers ’n Krautrock indie-rock raver for millennials, that could easily serve as the soundtrack to the closing scene in an unmade film about friendship.

At roughly 140 BPM, the second single from the band’s second album Sound Of Silver is backed by a repetitive Neu!-ish one-note piano pattern, impressively played throughout while the soundscape builds more and more layers at increasing volume. 

Recorded while James Murphy was tripping the light fantastic in Ibiza, there’s a mysterious magic to LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends that I won’t ruin by trying to explain the potion.

Suffice it to say that a straightforward repetition of the same guitar, keyboard and bass lines, combined with lyrics about life without regret (“I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision/ For another five years of life”) and life with all kinds of regrets (“You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan/ and the next five years trying to get with your friends again’) pays off with a punch about what we look for on the journey called life.

Georgia Maq, singer with Melbourne alt.rockers Camp Cope (who I wrote about in 2019 here) was adrift and alone in Los Angeles when All My Friends anchored her to home – and a sense of hope triumphing over homesickness for Australia, which is why she’s chosen it the most perfect song of all time.

A fitting choice as what Matty Healy of The 1975 calls “the most reflective, celebratory, present, nostalgic song.” “It’s the best song ever,” the snappily dressed frontman told the NME in 2022: “Especially for guys exactly our age. It’s our song. It’s the cool guys’ Mr Brightside.”

To me, a perfect song isn’t something that can be quantified by the amount of choruses, verses, lyrics or minutes, but by how it changes you. How it lifts you up off your bedroom floor or out of your car seat and takes you to somewhere you never knew possible. To me, the perfect song is All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem.

It was one of my best friends in Melbourne who introduced me to it. My phone lit up with a link to a song and a message from her that said “listen to this”. It was the beginning of August 2022, a week-long heatwave had just hit Los Angeles and I was in the centre of it. I’d just spent a month on tour with Camp Cope in North America and was missing my friends back home. I connected my phone to the car’s audio system, pressed play and suddenly, I was being held by the arms of love once again.

At almost eight minutes long, All My Friends starts with one minute and 20 seconds of repetition – the one chord progression (simply A and E) that continues through the entire piece, while drums and synths slowly build around the central pulsing progression. A song that repeats the same two chords over and over would usually bore me, but what keeps me on my feet is the changing synth parts and the subtle growth of the lyrics, sung with the beautiful timbre of James Murphy.

I spent the next month driving around Los Angeles listening to All My Friends in my rental car with the windows down, letting the sun and music warm the places in me I’d believed to be long frozen over. Seeing the Hollywood sign in the distance, getting stuck in traffic on the freeway, weaving my way through the hills of Laurel Canyon, speeding out to Pasadena, coming home at three in the morning from a lover’s house in Studio City. This music accompanied me to places I never thought I would go – the driving force of the song felt like a companion. Often in life, I feel as though I am wandering alone – but not with All My Friends by my side.

Georgia Maq in Los Angeles. Photo: James PDF

The first five times I listened to the song I thought James was writing about being drunk at a party and stumbling around the streets of Brooklyn until dawn, contemplating his youth and current position in life. But after five more listens it felt as though the song was about group therapy. The joint act of simply sitting around in a circle talking through the difficult aspects of life and slowly figuring it out together. I believe songs exist to be interpreted by the listener, and this song came to me when I needed it most, when I was alone in a foreign place trying to figure out what I was doing with my life, wondering who my friends were and where they might be.

By chance, LCD Soundsystem were headlining the This Ain’t No Picnic festival at the end of my month in Los Angeles. I stood at the back of the crowd and danced, uncontrollably, by myself, until I was clean of self-effacing thoughts, clean of any regrets or pain, clean of any comparisons that rid me of my happiness. I couldn’t stop moving. I felt as though I’d spent my entire life living under a storm cloud in the freezing darkness and All My Friends cleared the sky until it was just me, standing in the warmth of the sun, basking in its rays for those eight minutes, swallowed by the sound.

Edited by Steve Pafford

Reproduced with thanks to Guardian Australia

Georgia Maq’s EP Live At Sydney Opera House is out now. Camp Cope’s latest album is Running With The Hurricane, naturally 

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