Daft Punk
Random Access Memories


3.0
good

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (179 Reviews)
May 19th, 2013 | 587 replies | 88,811 views


Release Date: 05/17/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A well-done dance album, despite its numerous flaws.

3 of 5 thought this review was well written

Musical experimentation can be a very tricky gamble, especially when it comes to a popular group like Daft Punk. No matter how an artist toys with new sounds and makes changes to an original formula, somebody's going to get angry; it's something that just can't be avoided. The risk of alienating fans is multiplied exponentially in the case of Daft Punk, considering their second record Discovery is one of the most celebrated electronica/dance albums of its time. Mixing elements of French house, disco, synthpop, and even some hints of rock and ambient music, the album had something to enjoy for just about any electronica fan. Understandably, the album's successor Human After All wasn't able to live up to Discovery's legendary status; even more unfortunately, it took a whopping 8 years for this album to finally drop. Speaking of which, we should get to the album at hand, shouldn't we?

The reason I brought up the subject of experimentation is because Random Access Memories represents a near-complete change in Daft Punk's sound. Instead of keeping up with the duo's traditional house-infused dance sound, RAM is more of a chilled-out affair that gets drenched in its 70s disco influence. This isn't just a homage to disco; it's a full-on love letter to that scene and sound, right down to the production and instrumentation. A lot of this music could have easily fit in with Michael Jackson's late 70s/early 80s output or an Earth, Wind, and Fire record (minus the horns), despite having more of an electronica vibe about it. The funky guitars and smooth bass lines make their presence known throughout the majority of the album's 13 tracks, and these songs can get long! The overall album is seventy-four minutes, so you'd be forgiven for not finishing the album in one whole go. Enough with the details, though; how are the individual songs?

The laid-back nature of the album cannot be stressed enough; if it's any indication, the lead single "Get Lucky" is one of the fastest songs on the record. The mid-tempo funk/disco number is definitely on the better side of the album, but it also essentially lets you know if you'll like the album or not. This is because most of the record is in the song's vein; sure, there are definitely songs that mix things up, but most of the record is in "Get Lucky"'s brand of funky dance music. Opener "Give Life Back to Music" is a nice way to sum up the album's style as well, with mellow guitar chords and automated vocals gelling over the very dreamy atmosphere the bass and synthesizers lay on the tune. "The Game of Love" brings that dreamy sound even further, using similar synth arrangements to exude a somber atmosphere while the bass and drums bring the tempo down to a slow crawl. Songs such as "Instant Crush" and "Lose Yourself to Dance" follow in the same vein, but one thing that starts to stand out is how organic the songs begin to become. The vocal department is especially affected by this, with guest artists laying down their natural vocals and providing some beautiful overdubbed harmonies. In particular, "Touch" is one of the songs that benefits a ton from this decision. The song itself is a beautiful eight-minute epic that builds and builds; some great vocals from Paul Williams come in, and some cheesy-yet-fun synthesizers start doing ascending and descending runs. Once the funky guitars make their presence known, the song starts to pick up steam and becomes one of the absolute highlights of the record.

So with everything I pointed out, this must be right up there with Discovery in terms of quality, right? Well, not quite. The most obvious issue with the album is its length; seventy-four minutes is WAY too long for a record of this style. Much of the album has the continuous disco/funk sound to it, so that much material really gets boring after a while. Not only that, but some songs really go nowhere. "Giorgio by Moroder" is the worst offender in this regard; the song contains the life story of the person it's titled after for no apparent reason, and other than his dialogue, there's nothing new to listen to on this song. It's the same old song and dance (pun intended), but just with Giorgio Moroder speaking over it; it's nothing special. "Motherboard" is similarly uninteresting; the trip-hop-style beat is pretty cool, but the instrumentation lacks a sense of adventure even as the texture builds. Either way you slice it, it just sounds like filler to get to the next song in the tracklist.

So that's Random Access Memories. Despite being very flawed, RAM does deserve a place in your collection if you enjoy Daft Punk or 70s disco music. Yeah, there are some very weak moments of filler that pervade its runtime, but the moments that are good are really good. This definitely doesn't live up to Discovery or perhaps even Homework, but it's a solid piece of electronic dance music that shows the duo experimenting with some new sounds. Take that for what it's worth.



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user ratings (1177)
Chart.
3.5
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
FiveLeavesLeft
May 19th 2013



9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Sorry if this review's a little scatterbrained, but that's kind of how the album can be too

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2013



31097 Comments


I really don't get why people feel like this is such a departure for DP. They've been making faux disco and funk tracks for years, now they're doing it for real

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



50116 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

yeah

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

FiveLeavesLeft
May 19th 2013



9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I think it's because they removed so much of their house influence and added a much less "synthesized"
sound compared to their old stuff

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



50116 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Discovery wasn't even very house though

Detritivore
May 19th 2013



270 Comments


I had waited long time to hear something new of DP, i'ts sounds not to bad for me, however your rating is a little bit high for your comments.

I Always think that song by song reviews are not the best way to present the "essence" on any album. They make put you focus on particular things rather the overall result.

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



7091 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Discovery wasn't even very house though


Discovery was VERY house. Not that I really think the genre of RAM makes a big difference in its credibility, I just think it's of lesser quality than DP's best work overall. But I do think pretty much every track on discovery was rooted in house.

I really don't get why people feel like this is such a departure for DP. They've been making faux disco and funk tracks for years, now they're doing it for real


Yeah but it's pretty much the only leg they have to stand on here. The disco and funk was always a big aspect of their accessible dancefloor-aimed house tracks that gained the appeal of the mainstream audiences, and although they've managed to re-capture some of the purely danceable aspects of their sound on a few tracks here, so much of this just falls flat. Although maybe it's because they've shifted the focus onto the funk and disco side of their sound, I think the flaw lies more with DP having just become too detached from their grasp of that blend of ideas that made them so great in their homework/discovery era.

I really like some of the tracks on here (both pharrell tracks rule), but the majority of this does nothing for me.

TronaldDump
May 19th 2013



476 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If Frank Zappa made a gay version of Hot Rats, he would have this album.

oltnabrick
May 19th 2013



30636 Comments


um what

Digging: Curren$y - Saturday Night Car Tunes

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



6443 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Yeah but it's pretty much the only leg they have to stand on here. The disco and funk was always a big aspect of their accessible dancefloor-aimed house tracks that gained the appeal of the mainstream audiences, and although they've managed to re-capture some of the purely danceable aspects of their sound on a few tracks here, so much of this just falls flat. Although maybe it's because they've shifted the focus onto the funk and disco side of their sound, I think the flaw lies more with DP having just become too detached from their grasp of that blend of ideas that made them so great in their homework/discovery era."

Nailed it.

There are some gems on here, especially Doin It Right and Lose Yourself To Dance, but overall this is a pretty mediocre and superficial release.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2013



31097 Comments


I think the flaw lies more with DP having just become too detached from their grasp of that blend of ideas that made them so great in their homework/discovery era.


I wouldn't say that they've become detached from their musical past, at least not unintentionally anyway. Just because they haven't been releasing music doesn't mean that they haven't been making music. And of course, listening to music. I see this album as a huge response to the whole edm movement, that "everything must be electronic and polished clean"; this is real and live, and while it might not hit the mark musically or creatively, I personally feel like the flaws don't lie with the idea of the album

FiveLeavesLeft
May 19th 2013



9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

^ I'd agree with this in a way. For me, when I did the review, I judged it more on how well they did with the album's idea instead of judging the idea itself. I welcome a funk/disco sound since I love that era of music. I just personally feel they could have done it a little better than they did

NightProwler
May 19th 2013



6337 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really like this review. Another good one, well done - been enjoying your writings a lot recently!

mindleviticus
May 19th 2013



8220 Comments


Homework will always be the top notch daft punk

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2013



10070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

What you guys are forgetting to mention is how fantastic this album is.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2013



6443 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

No we're not.

Polyethylene
May 19th 2013



3061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah you really are

chambered99
May 19th 2013



794 Comments


albums p good

treeqt.
May 19th 2013



9704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

very above average below amazing

Digging: Luigi Nono - A Pierre; Quando stanno morendo;

scissorlocked
May 19th 2013



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"I see this album as a huge response to the whole edm movement, that "everything must be electronic and polished clean"; this is real and live, and while it might not hit the mark musically or creatively, I personally feel like the flaws don't lie with the idea of the album"

pretty much agree with Dev on this, first track is the obvious declaration




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