Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
GIVEN the hype surrounding Daft Punk’s first studio album in eight years, fuelled further by the No.1 success of lead single Get Lucky, it’s somewhat disappointing to report that Random Access Memories isn’t more memorable.
When it’s cool, it can be really cool. But while there’s a lot of creativity at play, it’s not always satisfying.
Indeed, the album works best as a series of cool snapshots featuring a variety of special guests. When things become more indulgent, they go off the boil.
Hence, listeners anticipating an album full of technologically cool dance-floor marvels akin to Get Lucky may feel cheated when they hit more lacklustre numbers such as The Game of Love (which goes nowhere slowly in spite of a beautifully melancholy chorus) or the utterly self-indulgent nine minute Giorgio By Moroder, which does absolutely nothing for the majority of its running time.
If this is representative of the modern, mature Daft Punk, then it’s below par. After eight years, we’d been expecting more. And it’s curious that those two tracks come so early in the album, raising fears of a complete misfire.
Give Life Back To Music does at least kick-start things in upbeat, funky fashion by employing a vibe that’s reminiscent of classic Daft Punk. But it’s a false start.
The next cool moment doesn’t really arrive until Instant Crush, which uses The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas to surprisingly endearing effect. Then it hits its stride, hitting you with a succession of funky, dance-floor friendly, pop savvy moments that make Daft Punk essential again.
Pharrell Williams crops up twice and successfully so. His smooth flow adding extra chic to the already sleek Get Lucky and, prior to that, Lose Yourself To Dance.
While a little later on Panda Bear, from Animal Collective, lends his vocals to the seriously addictive and sexy Doin’ It Right.
Paul Williams, meanwhile, brings a distinct vocal presence to the intriguing Touch (which has its moments) and Todd Edwards enlivens the wistful Fragments of Time.
But some of the pure Daft Punk moments feel underwhelming. Within, Beyond and Motherboard aim for the epically ambitious but only intermittently find high-points.
Thank goodness, then, for Contact, which ends things on an instrumental high… offering another throwback to classic Daft Punk sounds of the past and building to a heady, funky, feel-good climax.
Clocking in at one hour and 14 minutes, Random Access Memories is a long listen and one that is likely to frustrate as much as it impresses. Overall, though, it has to rate as something of a disappointment in spite of those cool (and yes, essential) random access moments.
Download picks: Instant Crush, Lose Yourself To Dance, Get Lucky, Doin’ It Right, Contact