So, the long-awaited Daft Punk comeback album has arrived. Random Access Memories had all the pedigree to be an incredible album; the creators of the French electronic scene mixed with huge reception for the lead single suggested something groundbreaking. The album was available to stream last night, a week before it’s official release, and a lucky few of us have got it permanently already. Anyway, I’ve had a few listens now and here’s my review.
First up, I want to put my not-so-original view out there… I loved ‘Get Lucky’. I know a few people that weren’t overly impressed with it, but the majority went crazy for it. It was like a modern funk, with the ultra-cool Pharrell (who’s 40 by the way, what the?!) with the vocals; but of course the classic Daft Punk sound was present in the breakdown. So, the album had some pretty heavy potential after its first single. However, think about it… the hype; where’s it gone?! I mean, it was a huge song, as soon as it was leaked online it spread like wildfire, but now, less than a month on, it’s cooled pretty heavily. And unfortunately, it seems that the album won’t cause too much positive commotion either.
Undeniably, Random Access Memories has taken the duo even further into the realms of funk, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, even the first track leaves you hoping for a bit more; ‘Give Life Back To Music’ has a catchy lick but never really hits that true crescendo that it threatens throughout. Moving on to tracks such as ‘Game of Love’ and ‘Instant Crush’, the album starts to sound like a mixture of the songs from the Portal series soundtrack, but not even that good! Later, simple beats that sound like the iconic duo have almost got bored of their own genre echo round some of the tracks; the energy from past hits such as ‘One More Time’, ‘Aerodynamic’ and ‘Around the World’ just isn’t there.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an awful album. I’ll listen to it again, that’s for sure. Random Access Memories has simply become a victim of its own hype, making its mediocre status seems so much worse than it really is. As a Daft Punk fan, I couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t to discuss what is good with this album. I’ll start by slipping in a good, old fashioned, three-word summary: chilled, refined and hip. There are few tracks that will get you up on your feet and dancing, but the eight minute epic that is ‘Touch’ has a classic feel to it, whilst simultaneously remaining remarkably current. ‘Fragments’ builds to an upbeat climax grasping on influences from not only previous Daft Punk tracks, but from genres as wide apart as eighties pop and the Japanese techno scene. Obviously, ‘Get Lucky’ is the mainstream track from the album, however ‘Doin’ It Right’ helps to keep up the album’s catchy quality without slipping into the ‘pop’ genre.
Finally, the album ends with a rather self-involved ‘hasn’t this been amazing’ track in ‘Contact’. Random Access Memories reaches its finalé by mashing up a huge crescendo of noise in this track. It’s a similar convention to what MUSE have been doing for years; however the concept doesn’t work so well on an album that hasn’t been filled with other powerful tracks. It’s a rather over-climatic end to what is largely a complete anti-climax of an album.
To put words into a more accessible means, I’m going to grant Random Access Memories a disheartening 4/10. It is an album that, despite a couple of great tracks, has to be one of my biggest disappointments in recent musical history. Anyway, that’s all for now, I’m off to listen to Discovery to remember why I really love this artist.