The instant culture which prevails today is handy for access, information and immediate reference. It also, kind of isn’t helpful at all. New music does take a while to filter through and hit the right spot, or wrong spot for that matter.
I’m not totally sure how it happened, but the hype for the new Daft Punk album went through the roof. The outfit could crash a website by simply posting a single picture. I guess timing has a lot to do with it, but also you will be hard pushed to find a music lover that does not like Daft Punk.
I can recall, when I worked in a record shop, selling a few vinyl copies of Da Funk (1995) before Daft Punk singed to Virgin. There was something about the record (Daft Punk’s 2nd release) – but that said – there were an awful lot of decent underground dance records around in the mid 90’s. Virgin had a lot of foresight, foreseeing the French House rise in the late 90’s so respect is due to the label, even if Daft Punk have since moved on to a new label (Columbia).
Daft Punk then simply grew. 1997’s Discovery (their 2nd long player) is a classic album. Kudos the likes of which is usually reserved for ‘rock’ albums. Part 10cc, part ELO, huge parts – just inspirational and moving intelligent – yet fun – dance music. One would always have imagined this would remain the outfits best ever offering in LP format.
A third album that passed a lot of people by followed after a lengthy gap in 2005 (Human After All). Then, Daft Punk wrote the soundtrack to Tron Legacy. That record keeps a low profile. There is no showboating. It serves to score the film but does so with some incredible orchestrated dance music. Daft Punk’s stock somehow came back. Slowly but surely burning away and humbly doing it just right.
Random Access Memories was preceded by, just, and features the surefire chart topper Get Lucky. It was / is the best chart topper of recent memory. Buying the song, before the album was released for 99p from iTunes was a simple no brainer. Three days after purchasing the song my play count of it was 34 plays – that says it all really. Addictive, fun, and a sheer joy to listen to – judging by sales and longevity I guess I was not alone in this stance.
A teaser then ran featuring, oh about 6 seconds of the opening track Give Life Back To Music. Now this really racked up interest. A seemingly live disco vibe, funk, pop, dance and groove – one thing was very clear – Daft Punk were about to drop a behemoth of an album.
Give Life Back To Music does pretty much what its title suggests. It has the lick of Chic via Nile Rodgers and the raw pop dance meat that fed Michael Jackson’s Thriller via Paul Jackson Jr. At the minute mark though, already, it just sounds like Daft Punk – this is not a bad thing at all. SuperDiscoDaftPunk sound ready to go and we strap ourselves in for one hell of a journey.
The Game Of Love zooms back to the softer sounds on 1997’s Discovery. The live licks continue and the song feels alive as its soft heartbeat ticks, pulses and shimmers. In a dance sense this is maybe close to if the Stone Roses somehow conjured up, again, the sound of their astonishing debut album. Daft Punk revisit their former selves with an ease the Roses sadly, probably could not.
Giorgio By Moroder starts with near documentary fashion. Giorgio Moroder simply talks, yet his words have a groove. The 4×4 beat, along with electronic dance music history is discussed by Moroder himself for the 2 minute intro, then an electric groove that visits the late 70’s early 80’s the present, and with it, probably the future. At just over nine minutes in length it’s practically impossible not to get lost in this groove. It is for me a real stand out moment on Random Access Memories.
Within reminds the listener again of Discovery. Soft. Tender. Electronic Soul. It serves to move the album a gear down (in tempo) from what has already flowed. This gear remains for Instant Crush. Vocoder vocals from Julian Casablancas would be unrecognisable (as The Strokes frontman) if they were not credited. A soft song that allows a guitar lead which, fittingly, could sit on the recent Strokes album.
Switching guest vocalists Daft Punk now recruit Pharrell Williams. Lose Yourself To Dance keeps Rodgers / Chic groove and it’s hard not to think of Thriller as the song moves confidently into a floorfilling dance / slow groove ridden clap-a-long. Funk, Soul and Electronic Dance Music really should not work this well. Barnstormingly good.
Random Access Memories now goes for real glory. Touch somehow manages to conjour up vibes of The War Of The Worlds and operatic electronic film scores. With the kitsch, Pop, theatre and groove Touch is bold enough to bounce off itself and constantly keep the listener guessing. A heartfelt anthem somehow slowly emerges in real graceful glory. The lyrics lift it to an even loftier place. The dancefloor is missing but Daft Punk are in their element here. Simply charming.
Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers return, with the dancefloor, on Get Lucky. It’s the most immediate song in years (and years). Slightly different to the single version but this matters not one jot. An epic floorfiller of the very highest order. You forget what decade it is and music with hooks and beams galore will get awkward Uncles and hardened clubbers moving in near tandem. A total winner.
Beyond washes the dancefloor away again. Whilst being a less immediate song its charm does reward with repeat listens. Motherboard veers back into film score territory and reminds more familiar Daft Punk listeners ears of their movie Electroma as its soft meaty pulse beats.
Fragments Of Time wears its House heart clearly before Daft Punk bounce the vibe into 80’s pop / rock / dance / charming / lunacy. It sounds so warm that it will, again induce beams for the listener. A ‘weaker’ album track which could still easily decimate the Singles Chart worldwide.
Doin’ It Right with its,ahem, Daft Punk / Alt Dance groove is probably the most ‘now’ song on the album. Panda Bear guests and the song veers between the sound of Daft Punk and Animal Collective in simple harmony.
Random Access Memories closes with Contact. With the task to close the album Contact just sounds like the party is getting ready to go again. Launching effects that take the listener away in a rocket of willing whirl. Sounding like 1997, 2013 and light years into the future – this is Mission Accomplished – and we just want Daft Punk back already…