Daft Punk - Random Access Memories Review



So there€™s this little known French duo, a pair of producers, who go by the name of Daft Punk. They did alright for themselves around the turn of the new millennium, but then no one really heard from them for some time. It looks like they€™re trying to make something of a comeback this year and have released this album quite quietly on the down-low with no real fanfare for its arrival or anything, but good luck to them I say. A bit of back story on them? Well, okay, it€™s all kind of boring really, but... Yeah, I thought that was a bit unlikely. You know who Daft Punk are, I know who Daft Punk are and since the announcement of this new album, and the expertly delivered promotional campaign along with it, it seems everyone and their everyone knows who Daft Punk are and always have. I myself have covered the gradual build up so far; up to the final unveiling of first single Get Lucky at least, and here we are a week ahead of the album€™s official release finding it streaming for free on iTunes for a limited-time-only-preview type deal. Striking while the iron is hot; here I am, reviewing it. First things first though; this is not the greatest album ever, it is not the best Daft Punk album either, nor is it likely to be the best album you€™ll hear all year €“ get all the excitement and hullabaloo of the build up to this album out of your mind right now. Gone? Good. What we do have, instead of all those things I just mentioned, is a really good album with some really interesting ideas, experimentations and highlights, along with some things that aren€™t so great €“ it€™s not a perfect album, but what€™s the big deal about that anyway? This album is also a lot more chilled out than you expect; with more melancholic moments than you might have imagined; lengthier songs than you€™d have thought; more experimentation than you expected; I€™ll stop making lists and dissect the tracks, I promise. Essentially, you can look at this album, and head into it with this in mind; it is a prog-disco album. Yeah, I know, but trust me. I€™ll admit, I was a bit confused and uncertain on first listen through of Random Access Memories, but I€™m on the however-many-eth listen now and it makes more sense. Starting at the start; the first track is Give Life Back To Music and what an intro it can boast €“ immediately bursting into life, like the most enthused rock-opera/prog-musical that The Who never got around to writing, before settling straight into some Nile Rodgers driven funk and the traditional robotic voices of Daft Punk. It€™s a laidback and groovy start that sounds kind of like what Justice were trying to do on their sophomore effort Audio, Video, Disco but less Zeppelin and more Chic. The Game Of Love comes next and brings the first taste of the album€™s underlying melancholia, sounding reminiscent of Discovery tracks like Nightvision and Something About Us, but with heartbroken robot vocals and bigger production, and not as good as Something About Us because, because I love that song; it will be the first dance at my wedding €“ bride permitting of course. Now, the third track Giorgio by Moroder is going to really divide people, and was my first real moment of confusion. It€™s a tribute to Italian producer Giorgio Moroder (famous for collaborating with Donna Summer during her disco peak, among others) and features segments of Giorgio discussing his musical background and tricks of the trade atop a sprawling instrumental. It€™s pretty weird, but the track itself has some great features to it; trance meets disco like sequencer work, big dramatic strings, elastic bass lines, scratchy synth mixing and big drums, but it sounds kind of like the electronica equivalent of a 70s rock band€™s €˜jam€™ track. Within comes up next and the melancholia of The Game Of Love returns; all down-tempo, minimal instrumentation, sad keys and lamenting robot vocals. This time though, it€™s a kind of Artificial Intelligence/robot ballad with the song€™s lyrics lost in worries of identity and meaning. As strange as that sounds, it actually works and the result is a simple and sorrowful disco-ballad-thing. Hot on the heels of that is another downbeat and forlorn track; but this is an unquestionable highlight of the album €“ Instant Crush featuring Julian Casablancas. Drifting along on light and palm-muted 80s guitar chords and Julian Casablancas€™ mostly treated/ vocoder inflected vocals it works the best of the three sad-pop disco-ballads as it is more rhythmically focussed and vocally melodic given Casablancas€™ unusual but impressive contribution. The first of the two Pharrell tracks next, in the shape of Lose Yourself To Dance, and the album gets back into the funky strut it got the album started with. This song is like the funk/retro equivalent of the club heavy tracks that featured on Daft Punk€™s debut Homework; it€™s a song you€™re not supposed to think about, you€™re just supposed to do what the title and the main hook advise you do. With simple funk guitar, repetitive rhythms (the good kind), hand claps, Around The World-esque vocoder loops and Pharrell€™s short and sweet hooks €“ it€™s hard not to. The track most likely to get remixed too. The Paul Williams featuring track Touch is likely to be another track that will divide fans, as Giogio by Moroder will be, and was another moment that left me confused at first. For one, Paul Williams vocals add an unusual, and initially jarring, quality to the track that gives it a kind of musical soundtrack feel, but I guess it kind of is. It€™s eight minutes in length and drifts in and out of string sections, the tiniest hint at Get Lucky, Pink Floyd-esque sequencer moments, robot vocals, bleep, bloops, ambience and choral vocals singing €˜if love is the answer, hold on€™ before reverting to a sole piano and Paul Williams outro. It€™s ambitious, and way out of leftfield for Daft Punk. It€™s prog rock, it€™s musical number, it€™s robot-epic-ballad, it€™s testament to Daft Punk€™s wish to experiment with the possibilities of their sound when they could€™ve phoned it in and it would€™ve sold millions. Click "next" to continue reading...

Life's last protagonist. Wannabe writer. Mediocre Musician. Over-Thinker. Medicine Cabinet. @morganrabbits