on May 21, 2013
I love Daft Punk. And I love French House. And I love 80s Pop and 70s Disco and R&B even more. So when I first listened to Random Access Memories, my first thought was this: Finally, they made the album that really took us back into time, the time of when music was different. When records couldn't be leaked, or streamed, and they weren't just a few singles amidst a bunch of filler tracks. They were albums, totally made as one complete package, to be listened to from beginning to end.
For fans of Daft Punk who love dance music, house, and techno, this is NOT an EDM album. It's not the house music that we know Daft Punk to have made, with filtered sampled loops, drum machine-programmed beats, and electronic harsh noise. It's not any of that that. You can't fist-pump to this music, you can't go nuts to it. So when you listen to Random Access Memories for the first time, go into it with a different state of mind than "House Music." I invite you instead to hop into your DeLorean, and take a plunge back to the year of 1979, when dance music was quite different...
Random Access Memories is Discovery if Daft Punk had produced it 30 years ago. This is a tribute to those who grew up in the 70s and late-80s. To those who grew up listening to Roger Troutman's vocoder in the band "Zapp" on classic songs like Computer Love, it's on this album. To those who danced to Nile Rodgers' impeccable guitar licks on classic Chic songs like Good Times and I Want Your Love, they're here too. And to those who enjoyed the mellowed-out soulful keyboard playing of Michael McDonald and the Jazz Crusaders, it's all here too. From the beginning track, "Give Life Back To Music", to "Get Lucky" to "Beyond" and everything in-between, you can hear the distinctive influence of the 70s.
Random Access Memories is also for those Who grew up watching movies like Tron, Blade Runner, and The Muppet Movie, and television shows like Miami Vice. You hear it in every one of the songs, that at-night, convertible top-down, cruise style of the album. The immense amount of vocoder, the guitar licks, strings, and synthesizers. The happy children playing. While Random Access Memories may not be as mind-blowing as Discovery was, this is a fantastically-produced album. This album is like watching a movie. It's a soundtrack to a life, really, a life of two robots trying to be human. It's slower-paced, somber, and meaningful. And it's really good. 5 stars.
on May 21, 2013
Daft Punk's fourth studio album proper has got to be the most anticipated album so far this year. It far exceeds the hype; Disco, Funk, and Rock with a human feel. Most of the instrumentation is real with Nile Rodgers scratchy funky guitars, and other guests like Pharrell, Julian Casablancas, Paul Williams, Todd Edwards, Panda Bear, and the legendary Giorgio Moroder who appears on "Giorgio By Moroder" narrating his earlier career in Germany (and particularly his work on Donna Summer's ground breaking "I Remember Yesterday" album" which incorporated sounds from the 50s through to the futuristic "I Feel Love") to a groovy backdrop before beautifully morphing into ornate Disco reminiscent of Cerrone.
The sound is far off from what everyone from David Guetta, Calvin Harris, or Skrillex are churning out. "Give Life Back To Music" is the opening cut and does what the title says, a robotic voice intoning against a groovy Chic-style retro groove, flying in the face of the anonymous mechanical Electronic Dance music currently cluttering up the charts.
"Instant Crush" features Julian Casablancas dreamy elfin vocals against a chugging rock-ish arrangement. Lose Yourself To Dance" takes the tempo down a wee bit and features the vocals of Pharrell, who also sings on the breezy smash hit lead-single "Get Lucky". "Fragments Of Time" features Todd Edwards singing to a sunny 70s/80s Pop backdrop, while "Doin' It Right" is a spare robotic ballad featuring Panda Bear.
"Within" is a stunning piano ballad with a winsome robotic voice singing "There are so many things that I don't understand..." which recalls Radiohead. "Touch" is an ambitious tempo-shifting piece with groovy bass, darting horns, and the vocals of Paul Williams, a maelstrom of instrumentation and a masterpiece! "Beyond" is an incredibly beautiful mid tempo trippy groove. Similar is "The Game Of Love".
For those that enjoy their instrumental pieces, there's the swirling "Motherboard" (with interesting percussion patterns), and "Contact" (which starts off with the real-life recording of astronaut Eugene Cernan's narration of a UFO sighting).
Daft Punk take you on an exhilarating ride, one of the best you'll get this year.
on May 21, 2013
I've never been a huge fan of EDM music. I've listened to a bit of Daft Punk in the past, but I wouldn't call myself a fan. Trolling my iTunes shows I had four of their songs from various albums (basically the hits), and the video for Around The World, because I'm a big Michel Gondry fan.
That out of the way, fans of Daft Punk knew that this was going to be a departure from their normal sound, as they eschewed their electronic sounds in lieu of real instruments. As I write this, the response from the EDM crowd is very, very polarizing. For fans who were looking for something different than the first single, "Get Lucky" will be disappointed, as the album takes that course through it's run. For fans of "Get Lucky", you're in for a treat. It's the best thing Pharrell has been involved with in a long, long time. His other appearance on the album is great as well. Touch is a song that feels like it spans three generations over it's 8 minute run time.
Upon a few listens, this sound is very 'disco revival'. Low, funky bass lines help an obvious 70's inspiration. Comparing it to older tracks, such as One More Time or Around The World makes it seem like these are two different bands...not a problem for me. Something makes me think Daft Punk was aiming to create their 'Thriller'.
I suggest listening to the single first, and if you like it, pick up the album. If you don't, steer clear.
My standout tracks:
Give Life Back To Music
Lose Yourself To Dance (feat. Pharrell)
Touch (feat. Paul Williams)
Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell)
"A light but polished, elegant record whose robotic vocals would hold expressiveness and emotion."- Thomas Bangalter.
Random Access Memories, the fourth album from Daft Punk, is eclectic, innovative, engaging and very interesting to listen to. If you're expecting just another EDM cd, you'd be disappointed. If not, you're gonna love it. Lending their cache to the effort are singing legend Paul Williams, Giorgio Moroder, Panda Bear, Pharrell Williams, Chilly Gonzales and music icon Nile Rodgers, whose fingerprints are all over the place. The decision to take it back to a classic early 80's mix of disco and smooth jazz-styles featuring session musicians is a good one. This cd sounds... alive! You'd almost think the late Roger and Larry Troutman from ZAPP! were looking down on them while they made it. With 13 tracks, each one has something special, something to make you want to explore and not just play them. Also makes it hard to pick out some to highlight.
01- Give Life to Back to Music: if you're of that certain age, soon as you hear the drums, rhythm guitar, bass and party chatter flowing through this one you'll want to lace up your roller skates and hit the rink! And you won't take them off until the cd's finished.
03- Giorgio by Moroder: a slice of musical history with disco icon Giorgio Moroder as he outlines his music journey through snippets mixed in with the beats and rhythms. Most interesting is how he was recorded with three distinct mics- including two from the 60s, 70s- to reflect his decades-spanning career.
05- Instant Crush with Julian Casablancas: One of my faves, but the music is almost spot on from another 80s tune, "Eye In The Sky" by Alan Parsons Project, right down to the filtering of Casablanca's voice (Thanks to Eric Shepard and Booky McGee for helping me out with that).
06- Lose Yourself to Dance with Pharrell Williams: Not really into his singing, but this one is one of the best tracks! And yeah, those are real hand claps you're hearing.
07- Touch featuring Paul Williams: Williams also wrote the lyrics. Ever-shifting and psychedelically complex, it's rumored to be based upon a Brian de Palma film that Williams also starred in and scored. Reminds you in a lot of ways of the Beatles, especially "A Day in the Life".
08- Get Lucky with Pharrell Williams: the first single release. It's what a night out is all about, not just what the title's metaphor suggests.
09- Beyond: starts out with string sweeps like a movie score, but switches into a keyboard/guitar rhythm straight from Michael McDonald's classic "I Keep Forgetting".
11- Fragments of Time with Todd Edwards: another infective, jazzy upbeat tune to nod your head to. Singing reminds you of Justin Timberlake or Jon B.
13- Contact: starting with a recording from the Apollo 17 mission describing a strange object witnessed in space to set the tone, there's some shades of TRON: Legacy here, but what really makes it are the drums as the song progresses and peaks.
This one is completely unexpected and that's part of what makes it so much fun! It's a bold, creative effort from the boys and proves the old adage of sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward.
on June 20, 2013
A testament to Daft Punk's love of yacht rock and disco, this album has some sensational analogue club hits. The mixture of talent on the record easily makes it not only a wonderful DP album but a record you can listen to over and over without it having the nasty taste of "produced in 2013" written all over it. The sound is amazing and the irresponsible love they have for this period in music really shines.
on May 21, 2013
From a production standpoint, Random Access Memories sounds phenomenal. It's music as a gourmet lollipop. Total ear candy. An audiophile's best friend. What more could one ask for? What indeed...
First, how about something new? Daft Punk explored very similar sounds on their 2001 masterpiece "Discovery." Back then, their shift from underground house and techno stylings to a vibrant hybrid of "uncool" sounds from 70's and 80's AM radio was not only novel, it took guts to pull off. Now, two proper albums and twelve years later, DP are falling backward rather than pushing their music forward. Even worse, what really sets RAM apart from Discovery is the extent to which it slavishly imitates its influences rather than forge something new and identifiably D-Punkian. If you're already stocked up on Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire records and still can't get enough of those grooves, by all means enjoy the feast that awaits you here. But if not, you're better off getting the originals rather than the comparably tame knock-offs. For instance, "Get Lucky" and "Lose Yourself to Dance" both feature some classic funky licks from Chic's Nile Rogers, not to mention singer Pharrell Williams' best impersonation of EW&F. The songs are close to being a perfect fusion of the two bands, and yet Pharrell's voice sounds thin and forced compared to the smooth disco legends of yore, and his lyrics are just embarrassing. Plus, nowhere in the songs do the personality of its creators (remember, Daft Punk?) really pop out. Discovery is more than a decade old now, and it still sounds fresher than this one. So does "Moon Safari," the 1998 album by Air. You know, that other French electronic duo who fused M.O.R. music from similar eras into a sound that the loungier tracks of R.A.M. come very close to duplicating---but alas, not quite.
Second, how about something with a little more life to it? Even if you just want to ape your childhood heroes, at least do it with abandon. With the exception of the slightly more outré narrative compositions "Giorgio on Moroder" and "Touch," so much of this record feels safe, predictable, over-calculated, and bloodless. The lyrics are mind-numbingly superficial, just clichéd disco or ballad boilerplate. Don't get me wrong, Homework and Discovery weren't deep either, but their mish-mash of styles were darn inspired, often transcendent. By comparison, this can be ponderous, stodgy, even a bit preachy in its promotion of pop's past. Judging from the promotional features, it seemed as if Daft Punk were nursing some high ambitions with this record, and yet it's the most conservative thing I've heard in some time. Worse, it's completely guarded: these fuddy-duddies hiding in Robo helmets have obscured their own personalities within their perfected replication of bygone eras. Kraftwerk sounds more expressive than this, and they were trying really hard to keep the robot thing up! Bangalter and de Homem-Christo, on the other hand, obsessing over the sonic details of their musical wax museum, have left all of the human touches to their guests. Ultimately, the Robots only care to give us a well-crafted dance "product," a rich gourmet lollipop (with authentic nostalgia flavor!), a classy alternative to Skrillex, and hope we don't crave something more substantial.
Some will be perfectly fine with this luxury confection. They'll eat it up without a second thought. Me, I'll pare this down to the eight best songs (i.e., the ones that aren't completely boring), and have a grooving, non-intrusive soundtrack to spreadsheet maintenance and household chores. One for the ages...
on August 22, 2015
I'm new to Vinyl but I have been a Daft Punk fan for years. I'm really happy with these records there's two in the initial holder if you will with a booklet that has all the songs with lyrics, name, and the people who helped/played in it. I will post pictures to show you what each thing looks like so you see what you're actually getting.
on May 22, 2013
This review is on both the album itself and the vinyl edition of the album.
The album is a very good album. However, it should be noted that its different than their past stuff. The album is basically Daft Punk doing Disco music. Normally, I hate Disco. However, this album is a rare exception. They seem to have managed to take all of the redeemable aspects of Disco and combine it with their signature sound. That being said, the album is also very interested because it features Daft Punk working with a full band on the songs and even an orchestra on some of the material. The album features contributions by big names like Nile Rodgers (Cher), Pharrell Williams (N.E.R.D., The Neptunes), and Paul Williams. In addition to the big names, the music features experienced session musicians that have worked on some very famous recordings like Michael Jackson's Thriller.
The vinyl edition of the album features the album spread over two 180 gram 12"s. These twelve inches are housed in a gatefold sleeve that also houses a card with a code to download the album and a few page booklet that features the album's credits (who played on what) and the lyrics to the songs. After listening to both the vinyl and the mp3s that come with the record, I would have to say that the vinyl is highly superior in sound quality. Even though I listened to both versions on the same speakers, I was surprised that the mp3s did not had the same in-depth low end groove that the vinyl did. After doing some reading on the album online, I found out that the album was almost exclusively recorded in analog with high end gear. Because of this, it makes sense that the vinyl edition sounds better.
Daft Punk does Disco. I very much like the album. It features Daft Punk going an interesting direction that almost seems to a beautiful 180 from what the majority of popular artists are doing. However, if you expect to hear old school Daft Punk, I would recommend that you check out some of the tracks before you buy the album. Some of my favorite songs are "Get Lucky", "Giorgio by Moroder", and "Doin' It Right". In closing, I will note that the vinyl edition may be a bit of leap price wise but I strongly believe that it sounds better.
on May 23, 2013
Probably like most first listeners, I was left wondering what exactly just happened with this album. I had read in interviews before the album dropped that Daft Punk were looking to stray away from the sort of pre-programmed music era of EDM (not that they've ever been part of that) and that they were looking to bring back some real and authentic music. Well they didn't lie because if you were expecting anything as their album predecessors, you're in for a rude awakening. There were a handful of tracks that stood out to me at first and although you can catch a touch of their usual style here and there, Daft Punk truly did their best to sound anything but like the typical Daft Punk. I can tell you that the majority of the album's tracks are very steady and slower tempo beats. They've written slower tracks in the past but also had many harder and faster tracks. You won't really find anything like that here. Yet after I was left, not disappointed, but more like curious with what happened, I decided I had to give it another listen. Well I don't know why but the second time around it felt so different. I really started to appreciate every track on the album (not just the first few I liked). Perhaps that was the intention of the guys. First time around maybe not so much. But the second or third, it started to make sense.
I think many hardcore fans will give it a perfect rating simply because of their love for these guys. But I've been listening to electronica and groups like Daft Punk for 15 years. I enjoy them just as much as the next fan. But I can't sit here and honestly rate it 5 stars. What I can tell you is that I honestly enjoyed this album a lot. It wasn't perfection by any means but the effort definitely deserves credit. I think many of the mainstream electronica lovers will probably frown on this album and that's to be expected. But I think real appreciators of electronica music will be able to see through this record and realize what a wonderful job Daft Punk has done. It wouldn't surprise me if they return to their typical style in the next record which is fine. But for now, Random Access Memories is what we got and I believe both Daft Punk and ourselves are lucky for it.
on May 11, 2014
My first experience with this album was listening to "get lucky" on the radio, with my children in the car. I found the lyrics to be a bit more suggestive than I personally prefer my kids to hear, so I would frequently change the channel to avoid listening to it.
Two things happened to change my perception of this album:
1) Pentatonix did a Daft Punk medley that just blew me away (yes, I'm a Pentatonix fan); and
2) Daft Punk won a grammy for this album.
Those two things really got my attention. So I had to preview the album, and I was surprised. Then I bought it, and was even more surprised. Turns out I like the majority of songs on the album. And that doesn't happen very often.
I've never been a Daft Punk fan before. I guess you could say I'm a convert? I don't know if I'll be going out to buy all of their albums now or not. But I am definitely impressed with this one.