Icarus‘ story was quite sad, really.
His father, Daedalus was a gifted craftsmen who built for the King Minos the famous labyrinth at Crete to imprison the half bull half human Minotaur. But King Minos imprisoned Daedalus in the prison on account of proof that the latter had had given his daughter Ariadne a clew to help Theseus, the king’s enemy.
Daedalus, in order to escape, crafted two pairs of wings from feathers and wax: one for himself and the other for his son, Icarus. Before taking off, he instructed his son to fly neither too close to the sea nor to the sun, but to follow his path. Overcome by the joy of flight, and blinded by his own giddiness, Icarus flies closer and closer to the sun. At last, his wings melt and before he knows it, he falls into the sea and drowns.
For Bastille, ‘Icarus’ is not just one person: it is an entire community, or to say, a group of people, more specifically our outgoing, young enthusiasts who insist on living life king size. This song is in many ways suicidal and against the theory of ‘You only live once’.
The song is riddled with examples of how people take chances in vain, how they risk everything they have just for the hell of it, for fun or simply out of foolishness. Thought and analysis seems to have taken a backseat in the contemporary world. People insist on seizing the moment, but think not of the consequences of their actions in the long term. The singer bemoans this utter ignorance, the blatant lack of respect for opportunities and life by people.
He compares them to Icarus, the foolish boy who killed himself on a whimsical impulse. He says that they—the people—are heading towards an ‘early grave’, by passing over opportunities, by not realizing their importance. They are hell bent on wasting their lives away when they have only just begun, and this is what the singer mourns.