Daft Punk’s heavily anticipated album, Random Access Memories, is a musical oxymoron that while taking a heavy back step to the past, simultaneously propels the music industry into the future. Although many of the dance beats resemble those that parents boogied down to, there is no doubt Daft Punk’s compositions belong to the avant-gardeof this generation.
Since the ‘90s, Daft Punk has been at the forefront of the music scene with their synthetic, electronic pop. Even the French duo’s robotic costume choices scream the future. However, with their fourth album, Daft Punk not only gives fans ultramodern jams, but also flashes of music’s past. There are tinges of influences from rock, new wave, disco and R&B. Daft Punk even collaborated with music legends like Nile Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder, Panda Bear and Paul Williams to twist old-fashioned rhythms into fresh sounds.
However, while Daft Punk’s album is an artistic tour de force, it is not particularly easy to listen to. To enjoy the album, one has to like a heavy helping of house beats and a robotic vocalist, and “Within,” a slow piano ballad, becomes almost unbearable with its high-pitched whiny cries. “The Game of Love” also has a slow tempo, and although it has a smooth rhythm, it can be a bit boring. Thomas Bangalterand Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the two men behind Daft Punk, did not sample as many riffs as they have for previous albums, which gives tracks like “The Game of Love” a lighter quality.
Despite a few monotonous tunes, Random Access Memories does present some great dance numbers. “Give Life Back to Music” is a suave jam with a strong guitar riff that makes you want to hit the dance floor. The layering of the riffs and electronic organ in “Contact” make you get lost in the fast paced beats, and as the final song on Daft Punk’s album, it has the most variety within a track. With a fast pulse and heavy drums, the song has a sci-fi-esque tone and reminds listeners of Daft Punk’s fortitude in the musical arena.
The collaborations are perhaps the most likeable songs on the album because they possess the most depth, and the standouts are the two tracks that feature Pharrell Williams. Both “Lose Yourself to Dance” and “Get Lucky” call to mind the sounds of the disco era, but are incredibly fresh and modern. One of the more love it or hate it tracks on the album is “Giorgio by Moroder,” which plays for a whopping nine minutes. The track layers the Italian music producer Giorgio Moroder’s narration of his life and inspirations on top of an electronic background of beats. Another successful song on the album is “Doin’ it Right,” which features Panda Bear with a heavy drum beat and captivating vocals.
If nothing else, the album offers a heavy dose of smooth and groovy dance beats. So whether you’re looking to listen to an artistic oeuvre, or just want a smooth summer dance song, definitely check out Daft Punk’s new album.