Album review: Daft Punk, “Random Access Memories”By Matt Miller | May 20th, 2013 | No Comments »
Itâ€™s no easy feat to listen to Daft Punk and set aside the French duoâ€™s genius for marketing. A carefully woven narrative of science fiction combined with a strategically executed, consumer-teasing campaign has propelled the release of â€śRandom Access Memoriesâ€ť into a cultural event.
For Daft Punkâ€™s first proper release since 2005â€™s â€śHuman After All,â€ť the electronic dance duo that influenced everyone from Skrillex to Kanye West has abandoned sampling for live instrumentation. A bold artistic decision and smart marketing ploy for artists who inspired a generation of one-man, laptop bands.
So, removing the glimmering brand experience of an Apple product, what do we get with the long-anticipated â€śRandom Access Memories?â€ť Itâ€™s a funk and disco record paying homage to the genres that Daft Punk once repurposed into dance-pop hits. Rarely deviating from the same tempo or time signature, the album plays out like a robot high school musical.
Ballads like â€śThe Game of Loveâ€ť and â€śWithinâ€ť sturr images of Iron Man singing in some smoky lounge. Instead of smartly looped vocal hooks like â€śone more timeâ€ť or â€śaround the world,â€ť these tracks force the listener to actually digest the lyrics. Listen to the lyrics? This is something we’ve never had to do on a Daft Punk record before. Yet an auto-tuned voice sings cliched lines of â€śwalking awayâ€ť and the game of love. All these screwball moments of overacting and melodrama nearly complement the albumâ€™s cartoonish yet beautiful recreation of disco.
Like those famed, obscure Daft Punk samples that became building blocks to previous albums â€” a guitar lick here, a bass groove there â€” â€śRAMâ€ť is filled with small gems. On â€śGiorgio by Moroderâ€ť the pause before the beat drops over a click track hits every pleasure center that Daft Punk is known for. The funk riff by Niles Rodgers on â€śGet Luckyâ€ť grooves perfectly with Pharrell Williamsâ€™ smartly-phrased vocals. This speaks to the albumâ€™s overall strengths, which come thanks to guests like Panda Bear and Julian Casablancas. These cameos show what type of musicians the men of Daft Punk are â€” they arenâ€™t creators, theyâ€™re recreators, making smart collages out of materials long forgotten or unappreciated.
But you have to give Daft Punk credit for trying to stop the droning EDM scene it helped create. Though â€śRandom Access Memoriesâ€ť is far from a perfect album, itâ€™s a bold statement in a shiny, plastic package.