Daft Punk is a perfect fit for all of us nerds out there. It has been scientifically proven by a reputable source…me. I submit for my defense exhibit A: They are robots. Well, maybe they are just French musicians in robot costumes, but are we really thinking that’s any less nerdy? Exhibit B: These are the guys did the soundtrack to Disney’s 2010 Sci-fi flick Tron: Legacy. They also had cameos in that bad boy while in said robot getup. Both of these facts added to the movies desirability for me (along with the universe being close to my heart already), but Tron is a topic for another time. Lastly, I give the court exhibit C: Interstella 5555, The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. For those unfamiliar, Interstella is a feature length Japanese animated movie that is affectively one long music video for the entirety of their 2001 Sophomore album Discovery (arguably their best album to date). So to sum up: robots, Tron, anime. I will assume I have made all necessary connections and, if not, I will simply continue as if I did.
Random Access Memories, their fourth studio album, was released May 21 here in the United States on the duo’s imprint Daft Life. The first track I heard from the album was “Get Lucky”, a funky disco number featuring Pharell Williams. I’ll admit it was a little poppy-er than I was expecting, but it was catchy as hell and after a few listens one of my favorite cuts from the album. I’ve heard a lot of people criticize the song (and the album as a whole) for being so vastly, mind-blowingly different than anything Daft Punk has ever done before. My response is simple… “SOMETHING ABOUT US”. “Something About Us” is off the album everyone thinks of as the definitive work for the duo (featuring songs like “One More Time”, “Aerodynamic”, and of course “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”). It is also a very funky disco number, albeit slower than “Get Lucky”, and it even also features promonent vocals. I’m not seeing it so out of the realm of possibility.
Once the whole album was released for free streaming on iTunes the internet exploded with more nerd elitist bashing. It seemed most people were upset as they perceived that Daft Punk threw their style out the window and turned their back on being a “house” band. Maybe this is another instance where my point of view skews things a touch, but I’ve never really thought of Daft Punk as strictly a “house band”. Yes, most of their tracks have a strong house vibe, but as I’ve already stated, the funk, disco, and synth-pop elements show up regularly as well as loads of rock influence on 2005′s slight misstep Human After All. These guys have always been a diverse electronic band with lots of influences. Yes, this album is ambitious and different. It is an evolution, but it is still very much Daft Punk. Songs like “The Game of Love”, “Within”, and “Beyond” even have some soft rock and progressive rock thrown in, keeping the work as a whole a very dynamically engaging release. Every step and every turn seems to be put in the correct arrangement to compliment the sounds around it as well as the tracks before and after.
Lastly, it doesn’t have the chopped sample style we’ve come to love, going instead for an eclectic band feel. Instead of sampling music, they are sampling musicians. Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs guitar and guest vocals on “Instant Crush”, which is one my favorite songs from this outing. Pharrell Williams is on two tracks, of which “Lose Yourself To Dance” has maybe a bit too much falsetto for Pharrell. Paul Williams, Todd Edwards, and Panda Bear also add some vocals to various songs while Chilly Gonzales does some great piano and keyboard work and Nile Rodgers brings some guitar to the mix. This style of composition fits well with their skills and is up my alley stylistically.
Now lets give this album the star treatment it deserves (After 6 entire listen throughs, beginning to end)
1. Give Life Back to Music * * * *
2. The Game of Love * * * *
3. Giorgio by Moroder * * * * *
4. Within * * * *
5. Instant Crush (feat. Julian Casablancas) * * * * *
6. Lose Yourself to Dance (feat. Pharrell) * * *
7. Touch (feat. Paul Williams) * * * *
8. Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell ) * * * *
9. Beyond * * * *
10. Motherboard * * * *
11. Fragments of Time (feat. Todd Edwards) * * * *
12. Doin’ It Right (feat. Panda Bear) * * * *
13. Contact * * * *
BOTTOM LINE: 8/10 If your a fan of Daft Punk or Electronic music you shouldn’t pass this up. It is a very solid, (and as you can see a very consistent) tribute to the music they love.