First, a brief history.
It’s been a long wait for Daft Punk fans. I can remember when I timidly stalked my local record store as a thirteen year-old, hunting for the Discovery album. Discovery drew me in with its bright anime aesthetic, but opened me up to a world of music. After devouring Homework, Daft Punk’s seminal first album, it was a four year wait before we saw the two robots return with the 2005’s divisive Human After All. Little known fact; the profits from Human After All went into completing Daft Punk’s cinematic debut, Electroma, a psychedelic and terrifying journey into existentialism (which you should go and see, now). In 2007, the Alive album mixed, mashed and modernized the entire Daft Punk back catalogue into a wonderful orgy of electrogroove. Finally, there was the 2010 Tron Legacy soundtrack. Which despite the constraints of being a film score, had moments of true greatness (and an amazing remix of Solar Sailor by Pretty Lights).
So that pretty much brings us up to the modern day and the release of Random Access Memories. Was the album a masterclass in media saturation? Yes. Did it kind of suck to be drip fed Get Lucky in such measured portions that I was sick of it by the time the single dropped? Yes to that too. Does the album suffer from any of this?
The work here is of such a high standard that it demands to be considered in and of itself. I was a little worried coming into the thing that the large roster of guest contributions would fragment the album thematically, however this is not the case. Daft Punk have managed to synergise all of their collaborators and the eclectic musical signatures that come with them into an epic odyssey of sound. In Giorgio by Moroder, Giorgio recounts his vision of creating a musical journey integrating the sounds of the fifties, sixties and seventies. Similarly, Random Access Memories takes the seventies, eighties, Daft Punk’s style of the nineties and naughties and turns it all into a sound of the future. There are some pumping, funk infused disco numbers (reminiscent of Breakbot) to be found in Give Life Back to Music and Lose Yourself to Dance. And some surprisingly emotional material in the slow jam The Game of Love and Instant Crush. There’s honestly a lot to be found here for music fans, Touch is a ripper eight minute odyssey that absolutely smacks of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury in the most delicious of ways. Even Get Lucky finds some greater meaning here, following and musically echoing Touch in a way that contextualizes the potentially hedonistic track as just a fragment of our own occasionally hedonistic psyches. The epic Contact rounds out the roster, deviating from Daft Punk’s normal focus on man/machine duality and turning our eyes skyward, asking one of the biggest questions in mankind’s repertoire of curiosity, namely are we alone in the universe?
All in all I’m pretty damn impressed with the album. It was a brave step to deviate from the normal ‘techno’ wizardry that Daft Punk have been known for, and that gets mad props from me. It’s exciting to think about the fallout from such a massive funk injection in the popular consciousness. Can we get a funky disco renaissance? Because that would be pretty sweet.
This album made me boogie, this album made me cry, this album gave me shivers, this album made me think. The only thing I could criticize is that there wasn’t nearly enough Chilly Gonzales. Because Chilly is awesome. That’s just a minor quibble however; to be able to see the group that got me into music evolve so boldly is all I could have ever asked for.
The short version;
Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories gets four out of five advertisement spots on SNL.