Album Review
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories Album Cover

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Reviewed by
Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Record Label: Columbia
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Although they haven't released a full length album since 2005, Daft Punk have become one of the most famous electronic music acts of all time. But it's not as though they have been absent from the music world since the disappointing Human After All; on top of being sampled in one of the biggest songs of 2007, they also released a captivating live album that same year. They then went on to score the film Tron: Legacy in 2011. Plus, Discovery still sounds as fresh as it did the day it came out, and its influence can be heard in any number of electronic music sub genres. As such, when rumors began circulating of a new album last year, the hype quickly rose to astronomical levels. The question on everyone's mind lingered: do they still have another great album in them, or will they continue the downward trend Human After All started?

The good news is that the french duo's latest album, Random Access Memories, is a huge step up from Human After All and is, by its own merits, a great album. Whether or not it lives up to the massive hype that surrounded the album is another question, but in the end its a question that's not worth pursuing. People weren't quite sure what to expect from the robots in 2013, and what we got is a lot different from the electronic house music the group became known for. Instead, they explore the sounds of disco and funk through means of guitars and live drums with the electronics, for the most part, taking a back seat.

The first single released from the album, “Get Lucky,” is a good indication of what they were going for with this release. It's music you can dance to, but it's not what the landscape of dance music today looks like. In several interviews leading up to the album, Daft Punk spoke of wanting to use real instruments like guitars to bring a certain life back to dance music that they felt wasn't there. While their views of current dance music may differ from mine, they felt inspired enough by their perception of it to create this album. But instead of adding life to what current dance music sounds like, they decided to dig up the past and create an album that nods to the dance music of the 70's and 80's through disco, funk, soul, pop, R&B, and even prog-rock at times. This cocktail of genres makes for an interesting and diverse album that shows this duo isn't afraid to stretch beyond their comfort zone.

Many different musicians collaborated on the album with Daft Punk, with some coming straight out of the disco era they recreate and some coming from the age of music that we're currently in. On the aforementioned “Get Lucky,” disco legend Nile Rodgers graces the track with his smooth guitar licks while Pharrell lends his vocal stylings to the song. The juxtaposition of artists old and new works well and merges the two worlds seamlessly. The song really hits its stride when the vocoded vocals come in with a sweet melody that is the kind of ear candy the duo is known for. The extended version of the song sits nicely in the context of the album, making it an immediate highlight even though it's probably been played to death by anyone who grabbed the single.

Where “Get Lucky” reflects the disco era, other parts of the album take the music in a multitude of directions. On “Giorgio By Moroder,” a bouncing synth line builds into an all out prog-rock jam that wouldn't sound too out of place on a Rush album. It's one of those moments where Daft Punk boldly walks the line between overloading the pleasure center and being flat out cheesy. This is a line they've blurred in the past with ease, and they pull it off effortlessly here as well. It could easily be classified as cheesy, but to deny how perfectly executed the sound is would be foolish. It only further backs up the point electronic legend Giorgio Moroder makes in his monologue halfway through the song: “Once you free your mind about the concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want.” Daft Punk are clearly unafraid to try things in unconventional ways, and the pay offs for this kind of ambition throughout the album are huge.

“Doin' It Right,” which features Panda Bear of Animal Collective, is a more downtempo song that slowly but surely morphs into a track that would be suitable for a dancefloor. On an album that features the likes of Nile Rodgers and Todd Edwards, it seems unlikely that a track with Panda Bear would be the obvious front runner for the best song of 2013, but somehow Daft Punk makes it come together flawlessly. Even Julian Casablancas's contributions on “Instant Crush” are completely up to par and, quite frankly, better than anything The Strokes have done in the last few years. The collaborations here were carefully fleshed out and thought through and it shows.

One of the most shocking things about Random Access Memories is how Daft Punk are unafraid to completely pull back and bring things to a very light and soft groove. After opening up the record with the massive, staidum-ready “Give Life Back To Music,” things die down quickly into a softer, ballad-esque song in “The Game of Love.” The sleek, smooth and sexy atmosphere fits nicely on them even if its not what you would expect out of the two. There are actually quite a few songs here that slow things down a bit, but the precise execution of the style keeps it from feeling overdone, and the pacing of the album allows for the more upbeat and danceable songs to break things up.

“Let the music in tonight/Just turn on the music/Let the music of your life/Give life back to music.” Does electronic music need to be given life? Probably not. I think it has plenty, if you know where to find it. But Daft Punk set out to create an album that is full of life, and they used the music of their life (disco, funk, etc. have always been prominent influences for them) to make an album that feels alive. Random Access Memories is teeming with life, and the multitude of genres presented as well as the production choices of the duo help the album deliver on its promise.

Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 44
03:31 AM on 05/23/13
uncle larry
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tacosforcharles's Avatar
Great review, basically mirrors my own opinion.

This album may have been slightly hurt by all the hype, but once that all melts away, you're left with something pretty special.
06:09 AM on 05/23/13
Regular Member
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Quijiba's Avatar
This is a great album, i'm not a huge fan of electronic music for many of the same reasons Daft Punk listed in interviews. I just feel that the grand majority of it is lifeless trash. Though like you said you can find some good stuff if you dig hard enough. Either way, good review, great album
07:01 AM on 05/23/13
kyle is hk
The Goddamn Loveliest Melody
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kyle is hk's Avatar
I agree with these opinions.
08:54 AM on 05/23/13
master of disaster
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Ravelle17's Avatar
It's Giorgio, not Girogio.

Good album.
09:19 AM on 05/23/13
King of Wrangling
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GlassyLight's Avatar
I personally find it irritating as all hell that this album is catching shit for not being what they've done in the past. Daft Punk are about making music that makes you shake your ass, and this accomplishes that.

Great, great, great album.
10:03 AM on 05/23/13
After everything, after everything
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Entoine's Avatar
Amazing album, that manages to remain interesting and enjoyeable through all of its 70 minutes. Production on this is incredible, sounds so good when you're listening to it with headphones
10:07 AM on 05/23/13
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barkjon's Avatar
good album good review
10:28 AM on 05/23/13
Registered User
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hienz429's Avatar
Doin It Right is the joint!
11:15 AM on 05/23/13
I am not magnificent.
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contra11mundum's Avatar
Fantastic album.
11:27 AM on 05/23/13
I Blew It!
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FaceLixeMurder's Avatar
Love it
11:50 AM on 05/23/13
keep cool, but care
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projectmayhem16's Avatar
Good review, Jake.
12:21 PM on 05/23/13
Euphoric Disconnection
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fran.182's Avatar
This is a great album, i'm not a huge fan of electronic music for many of the same reasons Daft Punk listed in interviews. I just feel that the grand majority of it is lifeless trash. Though like you said you can find some good stuff if you dig hard enough. Either way, good review, great album
12:28 PM on 05/23/13
Registered User
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rsgrdnr's Avatar
fantastic record.
12:32 PM on 05/23/13
A disgrace to the concept of family
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drewziph's Avatar
No love for Contact? Such a great closing track

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