Music Review: Daft Punk- “Random Access Memories”

Ryan Tipper 2
Story By Ryan Tipper

It’s here. Oh yeah, it’s actually and finally here. You could turn on your computer, fire up iTunes and download it right now; it’s on that level of here. After 8 long and tedious years, Daft Punk’s newest studio album entitled “Random Access Memories” has been released on May 21, 2013. Is it everything Daft Punk fans have come to know and love? Or does it try to make too bold of steps and trip over it groovy and retro endeavors?

Since the 1990’s, Daft Punk has continued to grow in both popularity and significance within mainstream music. They began their rise to fame in their homeland of France. Consisting of only two artists, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, the duo began to experiment within the genres of electronic and house music in the early ‘90s. They are also famous for always being in their robot disguised alter-ego outfits when in public or performing.

In 1997, they released their critically acclaimed debut album “Homework.” The 2001 release of “Discovery” was even more successful, driven by the singles “One More Time,” “Digital Love,” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

In March 2005, the duo released the album “Human After All” to some mixed reviews. However, the singles “Robot Rock” and “Technologic” achieved high success, primarily in the United Kingdom. Daft Punk then toured throughout 2006 and 2007 and released the live album “Alive 2007,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album. When Daft Punk performed and recorded “Alive 2007,” they did something not quite seen by them before.

Taking two of their songs at a time, the duo mixed them together to create an entirely new way of listening to the music. The crowd can be heard roaring to life on the record when a course or verse from their favorite song pops up at random. It made already-heard music come back to life with a fresh new twist.

The duo composed the score of the film “Tron: Legacy” and in 2010 released the soundtrack album of the film. In January 2013, Daft Punk left EMI Records for Sony Music Entertainment’s subsidiary label Columbia to release its next album, “Random Access Memories,” on May 21, 2013.

“Random Access Memories,” with all of its star studded tracks, is a mash up between classic Daft Punk as well as obvious new directions that the duo took. Many of the songs have a “this could be heard in the disco club” feel while a few tend to fall way more into the pop genre.

One thing that stands out the most on this album are the vocals. With 13 songs making up the track list, 6 of them have featured artists that sing in unique ways. “Get Lucky” (feat. Pharrell Williams), which had its radio edit version pre-released early as a single, feels much more like a one-hit pop song than it does anything Daft Punk has done before. That being said, when that song reaches the point where Williams stops singing and a synthesized robot takes over for the main chorus, it’s undeniably Daft Punk at their best. On “Random Access Memories,” the non-radio edited version of the song is far better than its counterpart.

“We’re up all night for good fun, we’re up all night to get lucky. We’re up all night to get lucky.” – Pharrell Williams

Another noticeable feature of the vocals on this record is Daft Punk’s version of what a robot would sound like singing his cold, metallic heart out. Almost every single track has an added dash of this robot, but ones like “Within,” “Instant Crush” (feat. Julia Casablancas) and “Beyond” almost solely focus on his voice. These songs make the listener feel like the robot is trapped in a world we can’t understand and yet, he desperately wants to be a part of ours. Soft piano and techno beats lend a perfect background to the soft-spoken synthesized vocals on these tracks.

“There are so many things I don’t understand… There’s a world within me that I cannot explain. “- “Within”

A couple of the songs feel as though they still hold a relation to the work Daft Punk did on the movie “Tron: Legacy.” The song “Motherboard” has a great classic Daft Punk feel to it while equipped with that soundtrack quality that would place it well within a movie. The song “Contact,” which gets more intense as it goes on, could stand on its own as the theme song for a science fiction film. It even begins with audio from an astronaut reporting seeing a strange object near him and the Earth in space.

Last, and surely not least, is taking a look at how much this album consists of very funky, and very old school, sounds and themes. Like the robot vocals, almost every song has some sort of element of funk weaved into its fibers while some stand out completely as what could be a classic disco song. “Touch” (feat. Paul Williams) mixes excellent and powerful vocals with simplistic yet groovy beats in a song that feels like it’s right out of the ‘60s. “Lose Yourself To Dance” (feat. Pharrell Williams) and “Fragments of Time” (feat. Todd Edwards) also stand out as the more funky songs on this record even with them all still having elements in each song.

“Tell me what you see. I need something more…Kiss, suddenly alive, happiness arrive…” – Paul Williams

To sum up, this is a great, but not amazing, album. Being a hardcore Daft Punk fan, my expectations were high as they should have been. Eight years since a real studio album along with a mass of hype building behind this record made everyone hope it would be groundbreaking and genre changing. While “Random Access Memories” doesn’t seem to follow that exactly, it does get better and better with age, like a fine, classy wine. I’m giving this album an 8.5 out of 10. Is it Daft Punk? Absolutely. Is it a very different Daft Punk from before? Absolutely. The larger amount of vocals plus the more pop and funky music feel makes it almost too different at times yet awesome at others. If you want to be teleported to an inter-galactic disco club located on a different planet and act out your favorite scenes from “Saturday Night Fever,” just give this album a listen.


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