ALBUM REVIEW: Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

randomaccessmemoriesTITLE: Random Access Memories
BAND: Daft Punk
LABEL: Soma Quality Records
RELEASED: May 17th 2013

The much anticipated album from French electronic house duo Daft Punk has leaked a few days early and with the frenzy still surrounding lead single Get Lucky, it looks set to be a main topic across all social networks for at least the next week or two. Having already received such bold praise as “the boldest, smartest, most colourful and purely pleasurable dance album of this decade” from The Telegraph, it looks set to become a milestone record.

Beginning with Give Life Back To Music which was showcased in the album teaser, the pair get off to an upbeat, retro start with guitar from Nile Rodgers. Much like what we’ve got used to from Get Lucky, they turn back time to the golden age of disco and deliver a chilled track with a rolling riff. This throwback theme is quite common on the record and it is seen again in Giorgio Of Moroder, which combines a lecture on becoming a successful musician from Italian dance star Giorgio Moroder with Daft Punk’s funky riffs and slow violin section over the top. Intriguing although it could possibly have been slightly shorter, as nine minutes is a little long for something so repetitive.

daftpnkPharrell Williams of Get Lucky fame returns on Lose Yourself To Dance, a funky riff and rhythmic synths. The scraping electronica is quirky and together with Pharrell’s Motown-esque licks, it merges the old with the new perfectly. Another look back to the disco era, it is a party anthem with so much youth and vibrancy. Much like Get Lucky, which is perhaps a little overplayed on some radio stations. The funky riff and retro soul flavour ensure the earworm of a rhythm is drummed into you from the start. There is an extra guitar solo which we hadn’t heard before and it just rounds it off, sealing it in time forever.

Bringing it down a notch or two is The Game Of Love and Within, which have love at their hearts. The former has a seductive tone embedded in the rhythm and a lot more actual melody from the robotic vocals. Essences of old school R&B and soul songs are intrinsically laced through the sound and it is definitely a tragic, melancholy track. Within is another dark, brooding track with a slow piano intro and a lot of sadness in the lyrics, which is possibly one of the most memorable tracks on the album.

There have been a few comparisons between Random Access Memories and Gorillaz’ album Plastic Beach, which is most evident on Instant Crush. Featuring The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, whose vocals take on haunting harmonies over an understated rock backing. It is a perfect chill out track, as is instrumental track Motherboard, which has a wholesome rural feel to it. Orchestral tones surround it as well as bouncing electronics. It transforms into a space-age terror around the three minute mark, when the growls and spurts arrive making it part chill out, part nightmare.

Perhaps the most intriguing tracks on the album are Touch, Doin’ It Right and Contact. Touch features pop and folk singer Paul Williams, who adds a certain theatrical vocal tone to the otherwise spacey and magical sounding track. The abrupt turns keep it interesting and it ventures into jazz and classical before settling on an electronic choral arrangement and ending with Paul’s solo voice again. Doin’ It Right is a straight mash-up between experimental artist Panda Bear’s indie-esque vocals and Daft Punk’s funky robotics. It’s almost like there are two songs playing at the same time and although it is a bit confused, it has a very catchy rhythm and Daft Punk’s part continues to circle your brain long after the end.

Final track Contact gives an astronaut’s description of the Earth before launching into a crashing, storming finale. There are hypnotising synth spirals, a touch of rock in the back and a cacophony of electronica and cymbals. At the end, the song lifts off amidst squeaks and fuzzes before fading into inaudible interference and cutting out.

It is definitely an replay of an album with a desire to revive it after it dies out. Daft Punk are masters at creating something fresh with bounces, squeals, scrapes and chimes and Random Access Memories is a look back at times when dance was the answer to everything. As well as the clear retro taste, it’s still new and exciting. Definitely worth the wait!


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