Daft Punk, Random Access Memories | Album Review
Random Access Memories, the thrilling new Daft Punk album, can be likened to your favorite team winning the national championship.
Random Access Memories is easily the most highly anticipated album by electro act Daft Punk. The hype machine went full throttle weeks before the album’s release, thanks single “Get Lucky. The hype isn’t overkill in the least. Random Access Memories ranks among the best albums of 2013.
“Give Life Back to Music”
“Give Life Back to Music” opens bombastically, catching attention from the onset. Sporting a neo-disco feel about it, the groove is nothing short of infectious. Nile Rodgers and Paul Jackson, Jr. offer magnificent guitar work. The lyrics may be an afterthought, but embody the theme and conception of the track.
“Let the music in tonight / Just turn on the music / Let the music of your life / Give life back to music.”
“The Game of Love” continues consistency and enjoyability with a beautiful and relaxed, yet groovy effort. Key lyrics “There is a game of love…” and “The one that would be breaking my heart / when you decided to walk away” accompany the delicious bass punctuations (Nathan East) and rhythmic guitar (Paul Jackson, Jr.).
“Giorgio By Moroder”
Capping off a superb opening trio is “Giorgio By Moroder.” “Giorgio By Moroder” finds Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder depicting his musical experience via spoken word. He conveys his biographical background against exceptional instrumental ideas. Among the instrumental ideas are nods to jazz, use of gradual changes, and use of the orchestra.
“Within” graces the listener with lovely acoustic piano playing by Chilly Gonzalez. Gonzalez sets up the tender, introspective nature of the cut. On the thoughtful verse, Daft Punk sings:
“There are so many things that I don’t understand / There’s a world within me that I cannot explain / Many rooms to explore, but the doors look the same.”
Falsetto is added to the vocal palette, sounding incredibly distinct within the vocoder:
“I’ve been for some time / Looking for someone / I need to know now / Please tell me who I am.”
“Instant Crush” brings in The Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas, who sounds his traditional, somewhat nonchalant vocal self. Additionally, he lends his guitar prowess. The driving nature of the cut suits him perfectly. In addition to the music, Casablancas’ chorus highlights, more than his verses.
“Lose Yourself to Dance”
Following “Instant Crush,” Random Access Memories truly embraces juggernaut status. “Lose Yourself to Dance” features Pharrell Williams, who’s falsetto seems a perfect match for Daft Punk’s soul-soaked production work. Williams delivers such memorable lines as “…Here take my shirt and just go ahead and wipe up all the sweat! Sweat! Sweat!” as well as the titular lyric. Williams takes a hiatus on “Touch,” handing the mic over to Paul Williams, who delivers a superb vocal performance in his own rite. In addition to a sound vocal and more neo-disco styled production, the orchestra returns triumphantly as well as a choir.
If Pharrell Williams hadn’t already electrified sufficiently, highlighting single “Get Lucky.” “Get Lucky” arrives in all its catchy glory. Celestial and accomplished, “Get Lucky” draws the best out of Rodgers and Jackson, Jr. on guitars. This retro-sounding cut easily lines up with the best singles of 2013.
Few would over-chastise “Beyond” if it failed to come close to the greatness of an outgoing trio of heavyweights. However, no one has to as “Beyond” keeps the momentum flowing. A spirited orchestral opening gives way to another compelling, soulful groove. Rather than tap guests, Daft Punk handle the vocal duties themselves. While it’s not near as catchy as “Lose Yourself to Dance” or “Get Lucky”, “Beyond” still delivers ‘the goods’.
“Fragments of Time”
“Motherboard” is the first completely instrumental cut of the effort, ten tracks in. Todd Edwards reintroduces vocals on “Fragments of Time,” another home run. Sounding like an allusion to a Michael McDonald / The Doobie Brothers song, Todd Edwards and Daft Punk ‘do their thang.’
“I’ll just keep playing back / these fragments of time / everywhere I go / these moments will shine.”
Penultimate cut “Doin’ It Right” features vocals from Panda Bear as well as Daft Punk’s own contributions. One of the highlights is the layering of vocal ideas. Concluding cut “Contact” is instrumental, save for an audio sample courtesy of the Apollo 17 mission. Lushly arranged and as thoughtful as everything else, “Contact” closes the album capably.
Ultimately, Random Access Memories can be likened to your favorite team winning the national championship – it’s that good. Haters can try to find miscues and reasons to write off the hype, but Random Access Memories effortlessly delivers as one of 2013’s strongest offerings to date. Enthusiastically recommend (P.S. It’s safe to join the bandwagon!)
Gems: “Give Life Back to Music,” “Giorgio By Moroder,” “Lose Yourself to Dance,” “Touch,” “Get Lucky” & “Fragments of Time