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Music Review: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

As I sit with my back to the door, my headphones pressed tightly against my ears and a confused, almost expressionless look on my face, I worry that somebody might walk in the room at any moment. I'm not doing anything wrong, but it would be embarrassing for everybody involved if I were to get caught dancing as I am right now, from the comfort of my chair.

'Lose Yourself to Dance', the sixth track on Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories' is the Pharrell Williams collaboration that isn't 'Get Lucky'. Nile Rodgers steps up to guitar duties on this track as well, laying down a funky base for Williams' fantastic vocals which are layered over a simple "come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on" from the French duo. It's this that's got me trying to pull off the robot whilst singing along at the top of my voice.

For me, this is one of the album's defining tracks; the production work is clearly that of Daft Punk, but the song itself is less 1990s House and more 1970s Disco sprinkled over something completely new. It's a throwback to the dance music of yesteryear and a refreshing change from the onslaught of EDM that Daft Punk themselves are at least partly responsible for starting.

It kicks off what I'm labelling as the album's 'second act'. Featuring the two collaborations with Pharrell Williams and one with legendary songwriter Paul Williams, this is where the upbeat and most danceable jams lay. The album's first five tracks make up a long and exquisite intro, which feature a greater amount of vocals from the duo themselves, who sound more human than ever right from the start. Ambitious instrumental work becomes truly evident in 'Giorgio by Moroder' where the only vocals are splices from an interview with Giorgio Moroder himself, which lead into a 9 minute journey through dance beats, piano work, and the best combinations of strings and synth that I've ever heard.'

This is followed up with the shortest track on the album 'Within'. The duo worked with Jason Beck on the 3 and a half minute long downbeat epic, which gives us a bit of time to consume what's just happened before Julian Casablancas' efforts kicks the happiness levels up a notch on 'Instant Crush', which leads us back to 'act two' with catchy hooks and fantastic guitar work.

'Get Lucky' comes in after the 9 minute long 'Touch', which was written with Paul Williams who also provides vocals. It starts off with a long, unwinding intro, that later turns into what can only be described as Daft Punk does Bowie. This is no bad thing and it soon becomes as danceable as the rest when one swift drum fill launches us into a brilliant instrumental piece, complete with keys and horns.

The album version of 'Get Lucky' is longer and fuller than the radio edit, with an extended intro that makes the whole thing just that bit better. There's a few other changes here and there, but nothing is too dissimilar from its hugely successful radio edit. Williams' vocals slide over Nile Rodger's slick guitar work for 6 minutes of dancefloor-filler perfection.

The set of tracks I've bundled together as 'act 3', and the album's final leg, start with 'Beyond'. After a 40 second orchestral intro that is best compared to the moment I first walked through the gates to Disneyland as an 8 year old, the track returns us to vocals helmed by the French artists themselves. Light percussion work and fanfares make up the track's final jam, which may last for a bit too long, but is a perfect example of Daft Punk's evolution.

The instrumental work of 'Motherboard' is another in which we can see that Daft Punk are, by no stretch of the imagination, afraid to change the music they're associated with. This is lengthy, ambitious and tranquil. It's like taking a hot bubble bath, surrounded by candles. It's just an odd coincidence that the tub happens to be floating through space.

Todd Edwards' collaborative work 'Fragments of Time' is packed with synthesizers that will make you grin from ear to ear, whilst Edwards' vocals will have you singing along from start to finish, before Panda Bear's input 'Doin' It Right' kicks in as the song a lot of listeners will have been waiting for.

Here, the music sounds like a true collaboration between the artists involved. Panda Bear's vocals could have come straight from an Animal Collective song and are layered over a robotic loop that sounds more typically Daft Punk than anything else on the album.

'Contact' is a huge, complex finale that starts off with an astronaut's radio call, before building into the IMAX equivalent of music. Organs are surrounded by heavy drum work, with guitars fluttering in and out of the whole thing. About halfway through, the whole thing sounds like it's about to malfunction in the best way possible as the album comes to a lengthy and epic close. It's as if somebody's just slapped a rocket to your face and set it on fire. Tension builds as your head is filled with a confusing blend of excitement and fear. Then, as the 74 minute long belter of a dance album finally finishes, you touch your face in relief - It's not exploded after all. And with that risk ruled out, you'll want to listen again and again.

Without a doubt the defining moment of Daft Punk's career, this is a return that lives up the unreal amount of hype it's received. The duo are no longer the producers who were responsible for the disappointing and repetitive 'Human After All' but they are, once again, the genre pioneers who helped bring attention to Progressive House with 'Homework'. This is not just a collection of dancefloor ready tracks, but it's a long and fascinating journey that deserves every shred of attention you could possibly throw at it.

Daft Punk's Random Access Memories is set for release this Friday (May 17) via Columbia. In the meantime, you can download lead single 'Get Lucky' here.

Edited On 14 May, 2013

( 4 )
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 3 years ago
Awesome review Jake, I wouldn't know where to begin with a music review (i can barely write a film or game review) I have heard a few tracks on the album, it doesn't feel like the Daft Punk that were around back when I was at school, but I guess music evolves and this just wasn't for me I guess
Pyroloveridge's avatar
Pyroloveridge 3 years ago
Think I'll probably get this, looking forward to something different.
DynamiteWhyte's avatar
DynamiteWhyte 3 years ago
I'd suggest everyone get it. It's probably the best album you'll buy this year. The finishing track is just...awesome.
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 3 years ago
Next album for me will be Fight or Flight's A Life By Design I reckon. This album just doesn't do it for me.

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