2013

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk (2013)

Daft Punk - RAM

The first album from the iconic electronic/house French duo of Bangalter and de Homem-Christo since Human After All back in 2005, has shown them not only mature as artists, but develop their pure fluidity towards crafting music. This is as crisp a recording as you will ever hear, with the mastering, engineering and flawless production allowing for a record that plays and sounds exactly how the meticulous duo wanted it to. The music however, neither follows suite to any of their prior albums, nor does it expand on their recent Tron: Legacy soundtrack. They continue to revolutionize modern dance music by instead incorporating the heavy influences of the late 70’s to early 80’s, to create what is essentially a disco/funk record more so than an electronic album.

 First off, it is immediately noticeable there is a lot more vocal work present on RAM than on their previous efforts, evident purely by looking at the hefty number of features. The opener, “Give Life Back to Music”, introduces Nile Rodgers; another heavily utilized, and incredibly effective musician whose guitar riffs not only add depth and funk to songs, it transcends every track into a dance-floor filler. “The Game of Love” and “Within” are reminiscent of the Discovery highlight “Something About Us”, and add emotional depth and sullen changes in pacing that make the sequencing flow effortlessly. The latter in particular, has the subtly powerful hook, “I’ve been for some time, looking for someone, I need to know now, please tell me who I am.”

 The two album centrepieces are the lengthy “Giorgio by Moroder” and “Touch”. Where the former pairs a monologue describing the evolution of dance with hurried, euphoric, climaxing music, the latter is the most honest track on the album. The production on “Touch” is impeccable, and disorientates the listener before focusing on the idea where, “I need something more.” The two most pop-like tracks on the album are amongst the most memorable, “Instant Crush” and “Fragments of Time”, with the former being an album highlight. Embracing the album theme of memories, Julian Casablancas is reminiscing about a former love, “I didn’t want to be the one to forget, I thought of everything I’d never regret.”

 Two tracks feature Pharrell Williams on RAM, the insatiable “Lose Yourself to Dance”, and the effortlessly breezy, “Get Lucky”. The former here, is a very good song. However, due to its similarities to the latter, is commonly forgotten. “Get Lucky” is without doubt, the strongest track on RAM. It’s the song of an era, the song which captures the ethos and virtuoso attributes of the greatest dance musicians of their generation. The hook explains more than any interpretation ever could, “We’ve come too far, to give up who we are. So let’s raise the bar, and our cups to the stars.” Another album standout is the deceptively complex, “Doin’ It Right” featuring the ever transcendent Panda Bear from Animal Collective. This is more like a Panda Bear track produced by Daft Punk, and is up there with some of his very best songs (which speaks for itself, if you know his music).

Let’s get one thing straight, this album is not Discovery, but nor does it try to be. More concerned with breaking boundaries and setting new standards than sticking to formula, this displays an interest to innovate rather than satisfy. “The perfect song is framed with silence, it speaks of places never seen”, is sung on “Beyond”, showing they no longer wish to dwell on (their) past memories, they wish to forge new ones with you. The summery-vibe of “Fragments of Time” also contains arguably the main lyric of the entire record, the mission statement; “Keep building these random memories, turning our days into melodies.” Closer “Contact” is the most typically electronic track off the album, and envelopes itself around a vocal transmission questioning life outside Earth. It layers itself, building presence, before ending the record the only way fitting for a ‘new’ Daft Punk, by reminding us why the old one was so entirely captivating.

Verdict – 9.1

Top Songs – “Get Lucky”, “Doin’ It Right”, “Contact”

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