Review Summary: Yet another album where the hype greatly exceeded the actual music.
It seems like everybody with an opinion on this record has already expressed it in some form. It’s been an exhilarating enough journey reading the reviews, features and interviews that all built up the mountain of hype surrounding Daft Punk’s first studio album in 8 years. However, now that I’ve finally listened to Random Access Memories, I feel like that mountain might be too tall to overcome.
A major fault in this album is that not only does it lack replayability, but mere playability itself. A 74-minute running time is risky and all 4 songs that exceed 6 minutes test the listener’s patience, with none seeming to warrant the allocated time. “Get Lucky” was tremendously successful as a shorter radio edit but here it drags, while “Giorgio By Moroder” has a thrilling final few minutes but makes you sit through a monologue that I don’t see why you’d want to hear more than once. It’s not only the longer songs though – “Beyond” and “Motherboard” are a dreary one-two punch, in that you want to start punching the wall out of boredom.
It’s clear that this album has lived up to many critics’ and fans’ expectations and it’s fair to say that mine weren’t very high, so I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the tracks here. “Doin’ It Right” and “Instant Crush” are both examples of well-thought-out collaborations (for one done wrong see Paul Williams' awkward vocals on “Touch”) and their immediate catchiness has seen them gain high rotation on my iPod. They’re both examples of how to be repetitive but not grating, something that too many other songs are. The worst offender, and I’m feeling physically tired just thinking about it, is the sterile “Lose Yourself To Dance”.
A few of the slower songs, namely “The Game Of Love” and “Within”, have grown on me to the point of being tolerable and have proved that RAM is at least as versatile as it is mundane. The music reviewing/listening community has waited a long time for this album and to try and downplay the dent it has created on the 2013 music scene would be foolish. You can’t escape the hype, but you can escape the music itself, and for all but a few of these (thankfully) forgettable tracks, I will gladly be doing so.