REVIEW: Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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We’re going to clarify this immediately – Get Lucky is wonderful. It’s by no stretch of imagination a new, innovative, groundbreaking piece of music, but the fact that someone is STILL capable of making a song that can garner so much universal love on first listen really is a thing of wonder. 

So here comes Random Access Memories from our favourite helmet-polishers – a burqa might be easier, lads – lumbered with the success of its lead single. A lot has happened since Daft Punk released their last album: we’ve had a slew of dance-pop copycats (poppycats, if you will), the resurgence of 80s sunset funk after Drive, and of course the life and death of LCD Soundsystem and LMFAO. While that last example may seem a bit superfluous, it still underlines the point we’re trying to make: culture ain’t what it was. The kids that enjoyed Around the World have grown up. Are Daft Punk even relevant or original any more?

Clearly you’re all wetting yourselves in anticipation of the answer so we’ll sort that right out: it’s an emphatic yes. Our Francophone amis, while not massively updating their sound, are still delivering quirky dance music in a way that none of their peers can or have done since Human After All (we’re all better off removing Tron: Legacy from our minds).

Examples? A nine-minute song about disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder, featuring his own spoken word vocal. Absolute bat-shit crazy, but still fascinating enough to keep you hooked into the epic electronic sprawl over halfway through. Opener Give Life Back to Music has Nile Rodgers doing his finest plucking since, well, Get Lucky. 

If some things jar, it’s perhaps the inclusion of proto-ballads (such as Within), but more so the odd choices in collaborations. Julian Casablancas and Pharrell may have been more of a fixture in popular culture in 2007, but they’ve barely had a hit to their names since. Of course, Get Lucky and Lose Yourself to Dance (Pharrell’s other contribution) validate their choices this time, but one does wonder whether those helmets are blinkering Daft Punk’s vision somewhat. There are more mouth-watering collaborations out there. 

But by the time excellent Contact kicks in at the close of the album, it all matters little. Random Access Memories is undeniably bonkers, at times even over-indulgent, but God help them if it isn’t idiosyncratic Daft Punk. Robo-vocodered or not, we certainly haven’t heard any collection with this much pizzazz for a long time. 

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