Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

daft punkI will state right off the bat that I’m not an expert when it comes to electronic music.  In fact, I know very little about it.  I pretty much know what I hear Thom Yorke talk about in interviews.  There are a few electronic bands that I’ve enjoyed over the years.  Chemical Brothers are one.  I remember owning a Crystal Method album, too.  MSTRKRFT?  Pretty cool stuff.  Are Air considered an electronic band?  Probably not.  Boards of Canada?  I LOVE Boards of Canada.  Daft Punk, now there’s a band that I’ve admired from afar for years.  Thanks to Spike Jonze and his video for “Da Funk” Daft Punk have stayed in my peripherals for years.  Daft Punk make electronic music that has a wide enough reach to allow music fans of all ilk to step inside their world and find something to their liking.  I personally listen to Discovery and Homework quite regularly when I’m running.  It’s great cardio music.  I often imagine some strange scenarios as I’m on the treadmill or running in the neighborhood.  They almost always involve androids, futuristic battles involving robot combat, narrow escapes from large explosions, and dilapidated cities much like the one seen in Blade Runner.  It’s music you can get lost in and it fuels that drive to sweat profusely.

I’d heard about this new album of theirs a while back and didn’t think much of it.  Then  I heard “Get Lucky” and was intrigued.  Using real musicians to create an organic electronic album, reaching into the past to make a record that would’ve been playing in discos in 1976.  I’m all about organic and real musicians.  So I finally heard this massive record in the making.  What did I think?  Hmm.  I’ll start with the highlights.  “Giorgio by Moroder” is a very cool track with Giorgio Moroder narrating his story of how he got into the music business.  There’s something very surreal about it, mainly because I thought Giorgio Moroder was Italian, yet he sounds like Werner Herzog.  The music almost gets proggy toward the end with a Saga-like guitar solo.  “Instant Crush” has Julian Casablancas singing like a lovelorn android over an “Eye In The Sky”-ish groove.  It’s probably the best thing Casablancas has done since his 2009 solo record.  “Get Lucky” is Pharrell Williams getting his ‘come on’ on.  One of the tightest rhythm sections I’ve heard in a long time.  Great stuff.  “Motherboard” is cool and slithery.  Proof that you don’t need computers to make slick instrumental music.  The highlight for me is definitely “Doin’ it Right” featuring Panda Bear.  This is not only my favorite track, but also the best collaboration on this album filled with many collaborations.  I’d love to hear a whole album filled with Daft Punk and Panda Bear songs.  Last track “Contact” ends the album on an old school note.

So, seems like there’s a lot to like about this album, right?  Well, there’s six songs I really liked.  Six out of a 13 song album.  I guess that’s alright.  I think if you’d remove that Paul Williams song some of the better moments of the other tracks might shine a little brighter for me, but Paul Williams?  Really?  I hear him sing and I’m instantly transported back to some random Sunday night in 1977 and on the Zenith console is some crappy variety show.  To me, it’s pure cheese.  The spray can kind, not feta or goat cheese.  C’mon, it’s the guy that wrote The Love Boat theme song!  Some may hear his collaboration “Touch” and love it.  But me?  It’s just brings up memories of lousy TV and even lousier music.  “Fragments Of Time” with Todd Edwards is another I can do without.  It’s terrible Paul McCartney and Wings trying to do disco.  It’s Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy” mating with a muzak machine giving birth to the world’s lamest Moog.  “Beyond” is so-so.  It’s like Kavinsky being bored in the studio so he thought he’d take a shot at a Daft Punk cover.  “Give Life  Back to Music” is a decent enough way to open the record, but if you ask me “Contact” would’ve been a better choice.

Okay, so there you have it.  My half-assed assessment of what’s to be one of this years most talked about albums.  I’m sure I’ll be in the minortiy in my overall dislike of this record.  It could be that I just don’t “get it”.  That very well could be.  But if I have to get Paul Williams, cheesy disco, and 70s department store music in order to dig this album then I’ll just remain uninformed, thank you very much.

5.6 out of 10

21 thoughts on “Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

    1. The Casablancas and Panda Bear tracks are highlights for sure. I’d be interested to know what you son thinks of this album, if he was a fan of the earlier albums.

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      1. Ugh. I cannot bear auto tune. It just ruins everything for me. At least now I know why Comedown Machine sounds the way it does. I think that Casablancas is turning into a Thom Yorke, and not in a good way.
        In fact, I think that Casablancas and Yorke need to make an album together called “Weird Shit No One Wants to Hear”, and them go back to their respective bands and make good records again!

        For the record, Liam liked what we’ve heard so far, but I had to cut the auto tune short. Just can’t do it.

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  1. Daft Punk doesn’t consistently appeal to me but I just have to own this now. I had some organic Kool-Aid once and now I have to have anything and everything organic. Some canned cheese thrown in makes it all the more a must have.

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    1. Organic Kool-Aid? Man, that sounds terrible.

      Let me know what you think. Anything that remotely smells of variety shows and horrible 70s sitcoms makes me break out in hives and repressed memories. Half of this album I like quite a bit…the other half is dreadful. At least, it is to my ears.

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  2. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Daft Punk is one of those bands where I’ll be content to buy the best-of collection someday. For now, it sounds infectious (sometimes) and, oddly, generic. Maybe the generic sound really comes from their influential nature, creating an industry of imitators.

    I did like the concept of this album, but I prefer the way Battles (technological, not electronic) did it in their last album or the completely non-vocal version of Holy Fuck (live performance electronica). What I heard from this album felt a little like the Love Boat clips show, full of “remember when” moments and few “love this now” moments.

    To be fair, their video for “Around the World” from long ago, was REALLY fantastic.

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    1. I always forget about Battles. That album was damn good. I must get that, and soon.

      The Love Boat clips, flashback episodes, and those Battle of the Network Stars shows are the reasons I will never love this album. Oh, and Paul “F*****G” Williams. Pfft.

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  3. Love your review!!! I feel like over all I have more connection with Discovery and Homework too and I can’t help to think that this album will be tough to have a connection with. I feel like when I heard “Get Lucky,” it made me feel like Nile Rogers was the main foundation of that song and that Daft Punk added patches of their OG stuff like the robot voice and the distorted electronic sounds. I’ve still yet to hear the rest of the album but I’m really interested in the Panda Bear collab!

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    1. Nile Rodgers definitely seems like the main foundation for a lot of these songs. And having it be that way it almost seems as if Daft Punk’s musical flavors(robot voices and electronic sounds) are more just gimmicks than their style coming through.

      I’d be interested to know what you think of the album overall once you hear the rest of it. That Panda Bear collab is great! But I love Noah Lennox anyways.

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  4. I wasn’t even going to give the album a listen until you mentioned “eye in the sky”… gonna have to say “no thanks” on that song (white boys and auto-tune… amiright, justin vernon?) and “no thanks” on the album in general. I’ve listened to every album since “homework” (which I still listen to over and over) and have been unimpressed with each and every one… which is unfortunate, because I LOVE electronic music.

    Did I just give an opinion on a Daft Punk release?

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      1. I think Gopher is in Congress. Or he died. I will have to google. I am already formulating my “Why The Love Boat is Genius” post in my head.

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      2. In Congress? Now I weep.

        I’m looking forward to this Love Boat love post. I would love to have seen Iggy Pop or Lydia Lunch as “special guests”.

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