Daft Punk – “Random Access Memories”

Daft Punk

Grade: B+

I’m one of those rare people that’s never really been onboard with Daft Punk. I’ve rarely found their music as entrancing and intriguing as most. The robot suits, to me, have seemed like an act more than an output of the music, which I’d already seen (better) in Kraftwerk. And I never cared for the repetitive rhythms and lyrics of their hits, and of club music in general. “One More Time” will grab me every now and then, but I see nothing in it beyond catchiness. “Around the World” has for years been a throwaway song to me, totally pointless and obnoxiously repetitive.

But “Random Access Memories,” admittedly, sucked me in. The first two tracks – “Give Life Back to Music” and “The Game of Love” did little for me, and were perhaps not the most momentous songs to open an album with. But the album’s third and longest track, “Giorgio by Moroder” roped me in more than any other dance song ever has. The song is winding and experimental, incorporating many instruments in a building rhythm. After the epic ends, the album twists into a peak of very danceable songs that never stretch into unnecessary lengths, and feature some great collaborations with Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Pharrell Williams and legendary songwriter Paul Williams, all of whom contribute to some genuinely funky rhythms.

The album continues to flow in segments, as the last few tracks feature just the duo more prominently, largely devoid of collaborators and focusing more on a stripped-down, electronica sound. “Beyond” is the most traditionally Daft Punk track on the record, with the typical repetitive, faint robot vocals, and is one of the album’s weak points. But the largely instrumental tracks “Motherboard” and “Contact,” the closer, bring the album to a momentous end, and allow the group to experiment with their music and break out of their repetitive habits.

The duo stray further away from EDM and electronica on this record, their fourth. The danceable tracks actually feature funky guitar rhythms over electronica, at points. At moments on this record, Daft Punk sound like more than a duo, incorporating many instruments into their swooping songs. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve already heard the album and have formed an opinion of it. When the band streamed it on Pitchfork, the world went crazy. People are down with whatever Daft Punk has to offer and, on this album, it’s a whole helping of everything. I do believe that I am a converted fan, at least for now.

Key Tracks: “Giorgio by Moroder,” “Contact”

-Andrew McNally

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