Album Reviews, Dance / Electro — May 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

REVIEW: Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Artist Name: Daft Punk
Title Name: Random Access Memories
Label: Columbia
Reviewed by: Rory O’Maley

 

In one of the most extravagant waves of marketing, hype and mystery we have seen this year, Daft Punk‘s fourth studio album Random Access Memories has finally been fully released unto the world. As with all releases of this stature, speculation has been rife as to whether the group can live up to the hype surrounding them. Thankfully for all involved, the French electronic prodigies rose to the occasion with an expectation-defying album focusing on their funk roots over their hyped electro stylings.

As we kick things off, the first thing we’re reminded of is our robot-clad compadres love the theatrical without a decent dash of theatre thrown in. “Give Life Back To Music” explodes with epic flair before refraining to a smooth and soulful Nile Rodgers riff that feels omnipresent for the journey to come.

“Game of Love” comes next, with a sexy, understated groove that introduces the bass guitar style that leads the majority of the album. The slow track unfolds beautifully to a slow refrain, setting the scene for ital-disco legend Giorgio Moroder to come in and flex his synthetic building skills – and what skills they are. The 9 minutes of “Giorgio by Moroder” sees Jazz piano, latin drums, minimal refrains and crazy funky drum led breaks, Giorgio celebrates the producers quoted. The ending’s threat to launch into a throbbing bass track is my saddest point in the album as this throb feels more like a launchpad for a big dance track than any other point in the release.

“Within” follows the sombre tones nicely with Chilly Gonzales‘ wistful piano sharing center-stage with a surprisingly emotional vocoder line. The much hyped feature of Julian Casablancas’ “Instant Crush” falls short of expectations, but builds energy well for the next track which, for me, really is a standout.

“Lose Yourself To Dance” is catchy in an “Around The World” type of way. It’s not just good, it’s infectious and forces movement upon you. While offsetting Nile’s cheeky riff with a wall of bass (and even some pops which thrills me!), the track sees Pharrell‘s smooth highs used to perfection in a way that lead single “Get Lucky” just never managed. “Loose Yourself To Dance” develops steadily, adding layer upon layer to the bulging mix before tumbling into simplistic, funk infused breaks. I know I’m going to be so sick of it in a week’s time but it’s the kind of track that I just can’t help listening to over and over.

The album keeps going strong with a hoard of guests and low key funk soul disco that really shows the genre at its peak. “Doin’ It Right” with Panda Bear is pretty epic and, though poppy and very Panda Bear-ish, really hits the mark as an album climax while “Motherboard” is some classic Daft Punk experimentation. Though it’s been said before, you’ve got to admit that for a band that have built a legacy through with samples and reworks, the ability to conjure an album of this quality from nothing is pretty darn phenomenal and Daft Punk certainly deserves credit where it’s due.

It’s not all peachy though. “Touch”, led pretty clearly by Paul Williams, has moments of brilliance but is brought down by excessive melodrama and a vaudevillian chorus line. “Fragments of Time” falls over with a very mediocre chorus in an otherwise lighthearted fun tune. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the opening verse to “Get Lucky”, which feels so limp compared to the tasty chorus and vocoder cut up that follows, I could weep.

But a weak point is a given in any album. And what’s amazing is the final calibre of the release, particularly with all the surrounding hype. Random Access Memories is leagues ahead of its predecessor Human After All in structure, and decades behind what we first envisioned during last year’s early hints. It’s a fresh revival of a classic genre and, though they’re not the first to do it, I’m glad to see Daft Punk are turning the world’s attention back to the simple, approachable charm of Funk, Soul and Disco.

 


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Random Access Memories - Daft Punk

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