I first discovered this album through some of my stoner type friends from high school. We all heard (and were pissed off by) "Around the World" while in middle school, so when I heard that they were all way into this French duo, I was surprised. After hearing the song "Aerodynamic" I was instant convert. Taking the band with me to college, it ended up complementing the more bacchanalian, fraternity-like lifestyle of college. My friends there, most of them being athletes from New England who liked Dave Matthews or Phish, instantly glommed onto the fun style of Daft Punk. What makes this albums so much fun? There is indeed some supernatural element at work. It's an x-factor that can incite the most languid stoner, and make the whitest WASP break out dancing in his room while people were laughing at me from the hallway.
This album is a pop album. I'm not very educated on electronica subgenres, but I have a sense of the different influences happening. These are mostly dance songs. There is an inclusion of smooth jazz, rock guitar solos, and even new wave, but at the heart, Daft Punk writes pop dance that has a heavy electronica/dance skew. It's a sense of all these different influences that brings the style such success too. "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," aside from its lyrics, could be a song in one of those workout infomercials from late night paid programming, or the next "Call on Me." "Aerodynamic" has a triplet section that hearkens back to Van Halen inspired guitar tapping that is found in a lot of modern metal. "Something About Us" plays like a slow jam and would fit in on BET's love grooves or whatever crap they play. This album is a diverse dance party under the guise of being more homogeneous and catchy than it should be. God damn is it catchy, too. Not only does it attract a wide audience of people with its successful style blending, but the songs are inherently catchy. Like I mentioned earlier, even the whitest people feel like drinking Hypnotiq and dancing with these songs.
Each song is distinct, by genre, as well as by the fragments and motifs that make the songs great. "Crescendolis" has little spatterings of DJ scratching, disco sampling, and even these weird crew vocals in the background to provide an upbeat wacky feel to the song. "Something About Us" has a simple piano line, wah pedals, and a sexed out bass line to complement the simple mixolidian melodies. The perfectly chosen inclusion of certain samples and instruments at different moments is amazing to behold, or just freak out to.
The two most important of these instrumental choices are the general use of the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocoder]vocoder[/url] and guitar solos. This album is completely synthetic so to produce vocals, or a more rock themed song, Daft Punk had to use electronic versions of the natural sound of a voice or guitar. While normally this would make a band robotic and stale, Daft Punk thrives on the sillyness of the robotic. They know that they sound goofy and embrace that. On certain songs, the vocoder will be singing a vocal line and merge that into a guitar line. On the chorus of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" the vocoder singer "Harder, Better, Stronger, Faster / Har...*guitar with wah effect*" On another part of the song, a plain verse vocal suddenly shifts to a metal guitar tapping solo. Though hard to describe in a review, I hope you get the idea of the frivolity of these shifts. They fun and add to the catchiness of the album. These moments though manage to be tasteful as well. It's not like hearing whistles or dogs barking in a DMX song, or synthesizer in one of those annoying throwback, retro indie bands that are ripping off Interpol and trying to live off the success of the 80s. These moments make the catchiness last beyond initial shock appeal. The vocoder is the perfect employment of such a technique. The other point I mentioned earlier, guitar solos, rule. It's great to hear rock and roll projected onto dance. It's like genre synesthesia. The best moments of guitar are on "Aerodynamic" and "Digital Love." Both feature some face melting stuff. The solo on "Digital Love" is particularly impractical because at some points there is electronic precision for huge, speedy ascents that a human would never execute perfectly, but that makes it all the more fun. Once again, the ridiculous mixes with the simplistic dance rubric to produce an amazingly catchy and fun result.
All in all, a solid album. It's one of the few that has a lasting catchiness, which itself seems to be an oxymoron. Enjoy drunk, stoned, or sober.
[quote= DFelon204409]Daft Punk had to use electronic versions of the natural sound of a voice or guitar[/quote]
Unfortunately this is wrong. Actually I know a guy that was most of the time in studio with them during this album (he sold them some synthesizers and stuff) and they did play it on a real guitar, no samples. At least when talking about the solos in Aerodynamic and in Digital Love. These two also happen to be the tracks I listen to mostly. And by the way, good review.
Whoa marshmellow, I didn't know that. Maybe they wrote them on the actual instruments, but if I've heard any music in my day, I'm pretty sure that if those parts aren't completely synthesized, then they've been doctored. I can imagine the "Aerodynamic" stuff being natural but the inflexions on "Digital Love" sound synthesized. That's just by my ear though. If you have insider info then I'll believe you.
Well, he told me it was played by guitar while he was present in the studio. He also explained how they got the sound for "Aerodynamic", maybe I could ask him again, I don't know the details any more. But this will take some time...
My guess would be, they played it naturally and did some work on it after that digitally. Maybe also speed it up, whatever.
Great album. Everything i listen to settles around the genres of rock, indie and metal, but Daft Punk are an exception. Is anyone familiar with Interstella 5555 the DVD anime movie of this album? I've seen it in shops, but i'm reluctant to buy it.This Message Edited On 09.02.05
I agree I agree! I will probably just download the video. I've heard about it from a thread I made in the other music forum. It's supposed to be cool. Not like Dark Side of the Moon mixed with "The Wizard of Oz" cool but pretty good.