CD review: ‘Random Access Memories’

June 29, 2013 

Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories."

  • Disco Daft Punk Random Access Memories

Heady goes herey

While the ’70s and ’80s disco scene has always flowed in Daft Punk’s veins, “Random Access Memories” wants to be the real deal rather than just a tribute. Daft Punk has drafted legends of the era like Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder into the studio and used instruments of the period to craft its music. This CD is two disco fanatics fulfilling their wild desires and ambitions.

Sound self-indulgent? It is. “Random Access Memories” carries songs so ambitious they veer toward pretentious in shape of multi-part suites and extended jams built around spoken-word passages; treats ideas and sounds normally brushed off as corny or dated with respect and love; and generally shows zero regard for what anyone might think about it. On the surface it might be an album heavily rooted in one of the most iconic dance sounds of the recent music history, but in its essence “Random Access Memories” is designed to tickle your brain rather than move your feet: a record created by two music nerds for their own fun rather than to get people to boogie. The more you listen, the more you realize that in the end it’s an exercise in revitalizing the studio wizardry of the era.

This could be a bad thing, and often “Random Access Memories” feels like the concept, the ideas and the self-indulgence came first and the actual album came second. This is most notable in how the album flows, or rather, how it doesn’t. Despite the shared aesthetics, the 13 songsnever fit together. The important thing, however, is that these ideas are genuinely great and often seriously impressive. Daft Punk have mastered the art of the hook and here that talent has been mixed with artistic ambition to create songs that are often downright impressive musical statements, while the production carries a depth and warmth previously unheard on a Daft Punk album. The lead single “Get Lucky” shows as much, as it acts like a greatest hits collection of every great musical building block of disco, taking all the elements associated with the genre and bringing them together in a masterful, effortless way that sounds both timeless and positively throwback.

Lauri Hiltunen/PopMatters.com

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