Daft Punk released their latest album, Random Access Memories, today (20th May 2013) and it’s an intense hit of art-synth-pop funk electronica that takes Bangalter and de Homem-Christo in more serious directions. Apart from Lose Yourself to Dance, it doesn’t feel like there’s many Digital Love, One More Time, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger single dance floor fillers as such on first listen, but it’s not necessarily all bad news for Random Access Memories, as it gains ground over time.
There’s definitely a maturity that the duo have arrived at on RAM, which is evident in opening tracks, Give Life Back to Music and The Game of Love. Both of which show a more polished, sophisticated approach to composition and musically the first half of the album loses a little of the fun loving appeal that have been a big parts of Daft Punk’s previous albums.
The documentary opening of Giorgio by Moroder is an interesting fan insider into the inspiration and making of synth pop music followed up by a fairly lengthy example of it in full instrumental flight. The lounge room lizard jazz mid section makes an interesting tangent, and the building electro infusion ending is pretty epic.
Within is a forlorn robot sad song that’s followed up by Instant Crush featuring high pitch vocals from Julian Casablancas, which sheds a little more light on what happened to The Strokes on Comedown Machine.
Main single, Lose Yourself to Dance, is a classic Daft Punk dance hit, with warped vocal effects wrapped around lyrics, “everybody on the floor”. It’s got a smart electric guitar rhythm repeat that the song builds itself around with skill, underpinning Pharrell Williams’ vocals in the chorus.
Touch, featuring Paul Williams, is like a funky synth-pop opera, with some great tangents that range from the insane to the beautiful. It’s followed up by the synth brilliance of Get Lucky, featuring Pharrell Williams once again.
Other highlights include the synth strings on Motherboard, which brings in the soaring beauty that occasionally stole the show on their work for the Tron Legacy soundtrack. It’s a very cool track with much less funk appeal than the rest of the album, which is sort of a welcome break at this stage.
Fragments of Time returns to the funked up spaceship that steers the overall direction of Random Access Memories, but it’s got catchy eighties vocals from Todd Edwards and adds a little country twang as well as futuristic notes that epitomise Daft Punk. The guitar freak out mid section, which is laced with cool effects, is brilliant, reminiscent of elements of Digital Love.
Doin’ It Right, featuring Panda Bear, is our shout for track of the album, bringing oscillating addiction with perfect rhythm. Panda Bear’s vocals are ace, sounding a lot like the best of Fall Be Kind.
Closing track, Contact, is the spaceman song of the album, blurring the gap between Daft Punk and David Bowie in a surreal sort of way. It’s a genius synth pop track with rock tendencies thrown into the mix, including heavier drums, metal machinery and a freak out psych-synth ending.
The reality is that the more you listen to RAM, the more you’ll warm to it. It’s got elements of Daft Punk’s previous work with a new sense of comprehension. Not everything is perfect, but there’s a lot of great and good on Random Access Memory.
Daft Punk, Random Access Memory review: 4/5