Random Access Memories
Columbia/Daft Life Limited
May 17, 2013 Web Exclusive
With an album as hyped as this, Daft Punk's first LP in eight years if you discount the Tron: Legacy score, it's probably worthwhile actually addressing the instantly tossed off online community reactions. So to all those cries of "Waaaahhh it's not Homework!" we'd like to paraphrase Bart Simpson and reply "What? They're giving you 75 minutes of entertainment to stream for free. What could they possibly owe you?"
How many times can Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo realistically be expected to reinvent the proverbial wheel while remaining in the parameters of, y'know, being Daft Punk? Random Access Memories contains plenty of evidence that the band is still creatively fertile and capable of moments of mind-bending brilliance. "Giorgio by Moroder" gets off to a questionable start with a biographical monologue from its subject but dissolves into a dancey chaos spread over a glorious nine minutes. "Contact" is a retro cavalcade of manic beeps, rocket noises, and drums that wouldn't sound out of place on a My Bloody Valentine record that stays on just the right side of proggy. Dance music that sounds as though it came from space has been attempted a thousand times for every star out there, but no one else can attain it so perfectly you find yourself giggling at Daft Punk's brilliance.
The album isn't perfect, and there are miscues along the way. In the first half especially the format of fast song/slow song/fast song/slow song is adhered to a little too rigidly and, while the individual tracks are fantastic, it feels a little disjointed. It's also very long for such an energetic record; while "Touch" might be a neat nod to the film work of collaborator Paul Williams, it doesn't really fit with the album's mood—and clocking in at over eight minutes is a hell of an interlude.
Previous record Human After All was a relative dud in the Daft Punk canon, feeling rushed and routine. This is perhaps alluded to with the funky opener "Give Life Back to Music," which lives up to its title. The guest musicians on Random Access Memories help elevate it to a far more inspired plane than its predecessor; Animal Collective's Panda Bear brings his customary lightness to highlight "Doin' it Right." More important still are Moroder and Nile Rodgers, who may only be credited on three tracks between them but their disco influence is exerted throughout to make this a warmer, more human album after all the hype. (http://www.daftpunk.com)
Author rating: 8.5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10