Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
It seems like just about everyone is finally on the Daft Punk bandwagon these days, the duo has been kickin’ it since the 90’s, gaining popularity outside of the French House scene in 2001 with Discovery. Every child of the 90’s knows Daft Punk hits like “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” but unlike many dance hits of the early 2000’s, Daft Punk’s are timeless. DP’s last major work was on the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack. My personal music fetish is when bands do original soundtracks for movies, so I endured Jeff Bridges’ ugly digitally altered 3-D mug to hear (and see) Daft Punk’s soundtrack and cameo in Tron: Legacy. Their newest album, Random Access Memories, was released today after considerable hype and presents a more sophisticated, thoughtful Daft Punk. The tone of the album has been set for months with the release of “Get Lucky” and the general air of mystery and epic-ness surrounding it.
I, like everyone else, had high hopes for the new album. Collaborating with Julian Casablancas (he’s never looked better than in “Boombox,” am I right??), Pharrell Williams and Paul Williams (no relation to Pharrell, in case there was any confusion) seemed like a scattered but inevitably great move for the duo. While certain stylistic points vary, the album achieves a cohesive experience while incorporating tracks that can stand alone like “Instant Crush,” “Lose Yourself To Dance,” and, of course, “Get Lucky.”
One of the more interesting tracks on the album is “Touch.” Featuring the legendary Paul Williams, it’s unsurprising that this track feels straight out of a musical. I get pretty uncomfortable listening to the raspy beginning monologue of “touch…touch…I remember touch,” but the track progresses into a touching (okay, okay, pun intended), groovy musical number. It’s basically the flamboyant ballad of an unsatisfied, lost human-turned-robot missing physical contact. It’s pretty ridiculous, but in the context of the album it’s fantastic. I can just imagine the Broadway spin-off of “Touch” as combination of Tron and Phantom of the Opera. The whole song is pretty ballsy of Daft Punk, while it stays true to many traits of Random Access Memories and their music in general, the garishness is laid on thick. My favorite part is the piano riff at 3:22 that mimics parts of “Get Lucky,” which, fittingly, is the following track.
Random Access Memories possesses plenty of characteristics of a soundtrack—perhaps their recent experience in the field primed Daft Punk for cinematic quality music—rolling with theatrical style in “Touch,” throwing a textbook movie score symphonic intro into “Beyond,” and a Jon Brion-esque flutey riff into “Motherboard.” DP experiments creatively on the album, harkening back to 1970’s electronic disco not only in their sound but by using electro/disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder’s voice in “Giorgio by Moroder.”
Rather than serving as a sad attempt to bring Daft Punk up to date from their early millenium hits, Random Access Memories and its success cements the duo as innovative and creative. If anything the world hasn’t been ready for them until now. Now we can all buy our own Thomas helmets and get with the program.