Sunday, May 26, 2013
Albums2010 #62: Random Access Memories
Well, kids, it's finally here. If you're a Daft Punk fan you've already listened to this entire album three or four times but if you've been on vacation like me for a week or so where wi-fi is hard to come by or suspect when it comes to things like Spotify, you've had to wait. And what a wait it was- and I'd say it was totally worth it as well.
This is Daft Punk up to it's usual standards of excellence. A serious Daft Punk fanatic upon learning I had streamed a few tracks for free iTunes immediately asked me if the new album was more like TRON: Legacy or Discovery. While I'm reluctant to come down on either side of that equation but I think I would say that after the big, bombastic score of TRON: Legacy, this is a welcome return to form...
The first single, 'Get Lucky' will probably land alongside 'One More Time' and 'Harder, Faster, Stronger' as one of the few Daft Punk songs that the average radio listener (i.e. not a Daft Punk fan) will recognize instantly. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers lend a nice pep to the tune that seems to leading a weird possible disco revival (I heard this on the radio the other night and wondered...) and indeed, there's flavors of disco pep throughout the entire album- but there's also a weird melancholy underpinning many of the songs. If you were expecting the upbeat awesome sauce of 'Get Lucky' throughout the whole album, think again.
Reading the early reaction to this album, people seemed to be happy about 'Instant Crush', where lead singer of The Strokes Julian Casablancas guest stars (collaborates? Helps out? Not sure what the proper lingo is here...) I preferred the first (well, on the album it's the first) appearance by Pharrell Williams, 'Lose Yourself to Dance' and the Paul Williams appearance 'Touch'. There was nothing special about 'Instant Crush' to me- and I had high hopes for that track because of this and this- both of which made me a kinda sorta fan of The Strokes, back in the day.
The finale of the album, 'Contact' almost echos back to the grandiose orchestral arrangements of TRON: Legacy- but if you watch this video, you won't care. (Some brilliant individual put this track to the close sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey- and weirdly enough, it works amazingly well.)
Overall: Listen, it's Daft Punk... albums from the behelmeted French duo don't happen all that often it seems and when they do, they always fall into the 'good to awesome' range- and I tend to lean towards the 'awesome' end of that spectrum. If I have one, tiny, tiny nit to pick, it's that while this album plays around with different sounds than prior albums, it's a perfectly engineered piece of Daft Punk glory. What made TRON: Legacy so intriguing was that you didn't know how Daft Punk was going to approach composing the score to an entire movie-- I would have been nice to see the envelope pushed in some more obvious ways with this album as well. But who am I kidding? I love these guys... **** out of ****.
You Already Know: 'Get Lucky'
You Should Get To Know: 'Contact', 'Lose Yourself To Dance', 'Touch'