Daft Punk
Random Access Memories


3.5
great

Review

by Daniel Incognito EMERITUS
May 22nd, 2013 | 19 replies


Release Date: 05/17/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Away from the conversation about the albums promotion, Random Access Memories is loaded with nostalgia and plenty for Daft Punk fans to enjoy.

Like many costumed musical acts, the persona put forward often draws away from the reality; Daft Punk consists of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. The lead up to Random Access Memories has further distanced the conversation away from the men behind the masks, and towards a conversation from which the music stands little chance of being talked about in isolation. As described by Grantland’s Steven Hyden “the strategy for selling Memories has been written about nearly as much as the album at this point.” The argument of whether the album should be rated in the context of the wider marketing and lead up to its release date is somewhat of a moot point, as every man and his dog has already done so. Yet it seems regardless of the music’s failings in this context, Random Access Memories stands as an album with the fingerprints of Thomas and Guy-Manuel all over it.

Album collaborator Thomas Edwards puts forth that “they’re fulfilling their vision on all levels, you know all aesthetics.” In the release of Random Access Memories a variety of media avenues were utilised, with snippets of Get Lucky airing during commercial breaks of Saturday Night Live; Pharell and Nile Rodgers appearing in a teaser at Coachella; and the small town of Wee Waa, Australia hosting the world premiere of the album. What many a critic seemed geared up for was Get Lucky stretched out over 13 tracks. An album packed with potential chart-topping hits that proved as infectious as past singles like One More Time and Around the World. Within this context, much of the album does little to justify the momentum and attention created by its marketing. There is nothing outside Get Lucky that appears ready to storm the charts as Discovery did.

In its construction there is little that is groundbreaking in Random Access Memories. Much has been made of Daft Punk’s usage of more traditional instruments. While this may ebb to the flow of electronic artists such as Skrillex and Calvin Harris; there is little to distance Random Access Memories in style from Daft Punk’s French contemporaries like Sebastien Tellier, Air, Justice, or anything released on labels like Guy-Manuel’s own Crydamoure. The most distinguishing aspect of the album is that it sounds like Daft Punk, songs like Give Life Back to Music sound as if they are a lost b-side from the days of Discovery and Homework. Elsewhere in the album, familiar trappings of Daft Punk are present, the likes of Within harking back to past songs such as Emotion and Make Love.

Just like with Radiohead’s In Rainbows, at some point the enormity of the album’s release will fade from view. In a few years time when talk of the albums lead-up is confined to Wikipedia, the precisely constructed sounds of Random Access Memories appear set to age favourably. The deft hand of Daft Punk shows up in songs like Beyond. Vocals drenched in vocoder move over a funky R&B bass-line at a pace which shows no rush to make its point when the ride is what matters. Others such as Motherboard sound too close to filler ambiance which their TRON: Legacy soundtrack was loaded up on. Yet criticisms of the albums length are not entirely fair, with song length mattering far more in an age in which albums are only rarely consumed as a whole. In respect to song length, the majority of songs do not outstay their welcome but show patience in building a groove and moving through the motions. It is also a trait which has been an aspect of Thomas and Guy-Manuel’s music throughout their career, past songs like Verdis Quo and High Fidelity stretching past five minutes with little to say other than a delicious little hook.

While the album does have much in common with Daft Punk’s first two full length albums, it is easy to see by comparison that Random Access Memories lacks some of the energy of its predecessors. This is perhaps attributable to the age of Thomas and Guy-Manuel, both coming up on forty years of age. Recorded in California, the song Fragments of Time seems inclined to soak in the atmosphere of their location, both thematically and sonically treasuring the moment and playing homage to the sounds of the West Coast. In honouring the past, they may strike some as a tad pretentious with the likes of Giorgio by Moroder. Yet the skill of Thomas, Guy-Manuel, and to a lesser extent their collaborators, is great enough that patient listeners along for the journey will find a wealth of moments worth revisiting.

Putting it all together, Random Access Memories is nostalgic towards the sounds of the 70s and 80s, and at the same time echoes the approach and learnings of Thomas and Guy-Manuel. The album stumbles in lacking anything truly groundbreaking, and even Get Lucky stands as somewhat of a pretender when held up to the likes of Around the World. Yet many of the albums other criticisms miss the point that this is a Daft Punk album, with all the usual trappings that involves. Over time it seems likely that Random Access Memories will stand as a logical evolvement of Thomas and Guy-Manuel’s sound, and a fairly rewarding listen for those looking for more of what sets Daft Punk apart from the crowd.



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user ratings (1209)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
May 22nd 2013


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Didn't want to give it a 4, but didn't want to give it a 3.5 either. HMMMM.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


31358 Comments


Oh, now look who it is

Digging: Objekt - Flatland

Cygnatti
May 22nd 2013


21353 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review, hopefully this'll be the last one for this in a while.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


2714 Comments


Heh, it's you.

mindleviticus
May 22nd 2013


8292 Comments


I didn't like most of this album

MO
May 22nd 2013


18863 Comments


fantastic review

omnipanzer
May 22nd 2013


21621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Oh, now look who it is"
lol


great review

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clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Shame you left staff. Best review for the album yet. Although I don't quite agree.

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greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


7421 Comments


Yeah. This review is the tits.

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Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013


10280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

"criticisms of the albums length are not entirely fair, with song length mattering far more in an age in which albums are only rarely consumed as a whole. In respect to song length, the majority of songs do not outstay their welcome but show patience in building a groove and moving through the motions. It is also a trait which has been an aspect of Thomas and Guy-Manuel’s music throughout their career, past songs like Verdis Quo and High Fidelity stretching past five minutes with little to say other than a delicious little hook."

Spot on! Bravo, couldn't have said it better myself.

Gyromania
May 22nd 2013


15941 Comments


your analysis of this is poignant and you address some very important points. they've definitely changed their signature energy and infectious hooks in lieu of experimentation and atmosphere(in many parts), but when it results in tracks like 'touch,' i can't complain at all.

two things:

and even Get Lucky stands as somewhat of a pretender when held up to the likes of Around the World


i don't think it's as much a 'pretender' as it is a new aesthetic direction. sure it has little in common with their signature sound, but it's obviously its own thing, and thus shouldn't be held up to around the world.

Over time it seems likely that Random Access Memories will stand as a logical evolvement of Thomas and Guy-Manuel’s sound


the second thing is just me being nitpicky but 'evolvement'? i didn't even know that was a word. 'evolution' sounds better to me here. overall very good review

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Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2013


23909 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

great review

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greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2013


7421 Comments


Nah Gyro. 'Evolvement' is a legitimate word. 'Evolution' is more common though.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
May 23rd 2013


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The perils of editing at 1am.

Gyromania
May 23rd 2013


15941 Comments


it's hard to find the word in many dictionaries, and it sounds kind of weird/if it denotes the same thing as evolution then why use it? idk, words and me

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2013


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

holy shit liberi

clander270
June 8th 2013


169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think this is a great album and a pretty good review. Overall I'm getting a vibe that the reviewer is taking this entire album from the context that it has to be "electronic dance music" when I think the duo is really just trying something completely different. Like, I think 'Touch' is a fantastic song but if I considered it EDM, it'd rate very low.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
June 10th 2013


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't think I was prescribing a genre which I felt the album had to adhere to. But what smacked me is Random Access Memories draws very much on what Daft Punk have done in the past. So I don't think the album is something completely different or groundbreaking, but more a natural evolution of their sound.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 14th 2013


16417 Comments


Review
by Daniel Incognito EMERITUS
May 22nd, 2013 | 19 replies | 1,650 views


Whoah wait this really happened? Phenomenal review, don't care too much for the album though.

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