Random Access Memories review by Daft Punk

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  • Released: May 22, 2013
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.8 (113 votes)
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
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Sound — 8
Daft Punk released their debut album, "Homework," in 1997 and since have been an enigma. The band is made up of the French duo of Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. They met early in school, basically growing up together, and then later in 1992 formed the guitar-based band Darlin' with a few other people. Homem-Christo played guitar and Bangalter played bass. After a short career in the band and a negative review that dubbed the band's music as "a daft punky thrash" they disbanded. Homem-Christo and Bangalter began to experiment with electronic music and took their name from Darlin's negative review, dubbing themselves Daft Punk. They were active as a band long before their debut album in 1997, having their first single, "The New Wave," released in 1994. In 1995 they released the track "Da Funk" which was their first commercially successful single. Daft Punk continued releasing singles and then their debut album in 1997, followed by their second album, "Discovery," in 2001. The duo began to use costumes in their live performances as well as any other public appearances. Most people would recognize their possibly biggest singles, "Around The World" and "Harder Better Faster Stronger." In 2012 the band released the soundtrack to "Tron: Legacy" and began finishing up their work on "Random Access Memories" that they had worked on concurrently with the "Tron" soundtrack.

"Random Access Memories" is 13 tracks long and clocks in at just under 75 minutes. The album itself was actually a rather interesting undertaking as the majority of the instrumentation used on the album is actually real live instrumentation with the exception of vintage vocoders, a modular synthesizer and a drum machine used on a few tracks. There were numerous collaborations, mainly using musicians whose careers had their most significant success in the late '70s or early '80s. Daft Punk was striving to capture this specific timeframe in the album, with many of the tracks having a distinct "disco" sound. The album is an experience in and of itself most of it comes off like some kind of futuristic robot disco. Each track, while composed by Daft Punk, has so many different collaborators sound more like a collection type album of Greatest Disco Hits of 2099 instead of an electronic synthpop album by a single band.

Lyrics — 7
There are so many collaborating vocalists and so much vocal processing completed that it is really hard to summarize the vocal work on the album. Some of the vocalists included on the album are Panda Bear, Julian Casablancas, Todd Edwards, Giorgio Moroder (monologue), Paul Williams and Pharrell Williams. The heavy use of vocoders emulating assorted robot and android voices is pretty much par for the course for Daft Punk and is used frequently. There is an oddly moving monologue by Giorgio Moroder (legendary disco singer, songwriter and producer) on the track "Giorgio By Moroder" talking about his life being changed by a click track. Otherwise, the lyrics are basically what you would expect from disco tracks, revolving around dancing, love and sex.

Overall Impression — 8
Synthpop isn't one of my favorite genres and neither is disco, but somehow I find myself really digging this album. I think the use of real instruments was a genius move by Daft Punk. I'm interested at this point to see what they do in the future and will probably revisit some of their past releases. I'm looking forward to hearing some dubstep remixes on YouTube of some of these songs. Some of my favorite tracks from the album would have to be "The Game Of Love," "Giorgio By Moroder," "Beyond" and "Contact." Honestly, I find myself really curious about synthpop in general after this release. There have been a lot of really good releases so far in 2013 and I'm definitely counting this album among them.

91 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Camron62\m/
    I love this album. Daft Punk are a pair of geniuses. "To be perfectly honest, and I hate to sound negative, cynical or condescending in any way but thats probably how this will come off, Ive been really bummed with most of the new music thats been making waves in 2013. I feel like the 'big' sound in dance music right now is just this mashup of every single subgenre possible, to try and appeal to the most people possible, with these cheesy played-out trance pads and vocal hooks, it all sounds exactly the same and its really bad for the most part, and the scariest thing is that people are reacting to this stuff, crowds at festivals and clubs are wanting more of it. A few of us have deemed it the EDM Apocolypse. Dance music is in a really weird place right now. I dont know where its going to go. In some way Im hoping Daft Punk single-handedly destroys this phenomenon were experiencing and un-brainwashes everybody into realizing that real music should have some soul and authenticity to it, and not just be a big kick drum and a trance breakdown with a cheesy one-liner and a 'big drop.'" -Wolfgang Gartner
    Shabalaba
    I like Wolfgang Gartners music and I've introduced it to a few of my friends, but it wouldn't really be unfair to say he's hardly the most creative chap I've heard. He's got an extremely distinctive sound across all of his music, and to quote him, a 'big kick drum' is its basis. He's the definition of generic dance music at this point. I agree with the sentiment though.
    Camron62\m/
    He's not THAT generic, compared to actual shitty mainstream dance music and poorly made brostep and all that. I think that's what he's talking about.
    goddamncanadian
    This review lost all credibility with this statement: "I'm looking forward to hearing some dubstep remixes on YouTube of some of these songs."
    Skyvalve2012
    Daft Punk > dubstep. End of Discussion.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    every sound on Earth > dubstep
    Camron62\m/
    Right?? This is a terrible review. Whoever wrote it doesn't understand disco, its impact, and how very different every track is from each other. It took 4 years to make this album perfect.
    Skyvalve2012
    I know EDM gets a lot of crap here, and i know i might ger downvoted, but thank you so much for putting up a review of one of EDM's biggest stars. Totally buying this album.
    mc92
    Daft Punk're not EDM, they even don't know what it means.
    goddamncanadian
    This album should have been named after the first track, "Give Life Back to Music", because that is exactly what it does. It's so much more than your typical EDM release; this is a landmark recording. Random Access Memories is the best album of Daft Punk's career, and quite possibly a defining work of this decade. Expect many imitators to follow.
    Deanwings79
    let's not pretend Daft Punk invented disco, funk, or any of the genres flowing out of the album. Easy there gunner. it is a good album though. catchy as hell.
    phili666
    wow calm down. daft punk make good music but it's nothing more than 70's disco revival. people ahil them as innovators and geniuses but really they're nowhere near the most innovative or technical electronic artists. they're accessible and fun. Calling this album a defining work of this decade is a slap in the face to all the innovative works from this decade.
    Camron62\m/
    I can't think of any house/electronic DJs/producers better than Daft Punk, and I know quite a few... Deadmau5 comes to mind, but he doesn't DJ.
    phili666
    you know quite a few? name them because you citing deadmou5 as one that contends doesn't give me much cause to believe you. you name one of the most famous DJs in electroncic music
    Camron62\m/
    Swedish House Mafia (Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell), Benny Benassi, The Neptunes, David Guetta, Wolfgang Gartner, Calvin Harris, Felix Da Housecat, Christopher Lawrence... all have made good house and EDM to me. I could also name a bunch of dubstep artists i like too. Not that anyone really cares, unless you wanna share opinions.
    Invicto91
    I agree, but at the same time it brings a much need return to how music should be (not that there isn't good new music). If you perchance browsed upon that NME article posted above DP very appropriately use the term "soul," which is indeed lacking in a lot of music being produced nowadays. If people listen to this and desire more out of their music and as such quality of tracks increase it could still easily be an influential and defining work though it still may not be innovative.
    crazysam23_Atax
    "Random Access Memories is the best album of Daft Punk's career, and quite possibly a defining work of this decade." You certain about that? I've heard from many fans that "Discovery" is more influential.
    ozzyismetal
    1. Discovery isn't from this decade. 2. Of course Discovery is seen as more influential, Random Access Memories only just came out - at least give it a few years to have a cultural impact.
    ordinary_story
    Well they hyped it a lot with the collaborator video series, but in the end it turned out to be a mellow set of 70s styled disco pop songs.. still enjoy it but i bet a lot of people will be pissed lol
    BassTapp
    Most important album of the year! Of course everyone has the right to their own opinions but in my view this album will on its own have an influential effect on music for the next decade.
    Mr. Stripe
    Isn't the solo in Fragments of Time one of the coolest things you've ever heard?
    SmurfGenocide
    I originally downloaded this album through the wetransfer website before it was released and it was only like 128 kbps. The songs were awesome but I wasn't blown away with the mixing. Then I got the official release and am now listening to it through 7.1 surround sound. DAMN!!! The songs kick so much harder and everything sounds so clear.
    Apocalypse4162
    I was listening to it on iTunes before it's release and the quality there did it no justice. I bought the CD because I knew the quality is important, and wow, is it ever.. The songs SHINE now, the production is top notch.
    intothe
    Overall the record was pretty good imo but I wish it was a bit more "out there" and stepped out of its comfort zone of "pleasant" funky/disco tunes. If the whole record was more like Touch and Giorgio by Moroder it'd be a lot more interesting. It's by no means a bad record, but it didn't have enough of that factor which brings an album to the 9 or 10/10 level, if that makes sense.
    XxIRONxMAIDENxX
    Pretty decent album. I don't know if any of you have ever heard of the group Chromeo, but they sound similar to Daft Punk's sound on this album and I bet Daft Punk probably took some influence from them.
    Jozef23
    Best album of the year...maybe. Would definitely put it up there. I read a review where they said that it was a masterpiece full of flaws. It sums the album up well. It's brilliant and the bits which are a bit off, doesn't damage the album. It just makes the album more real. I love it, so much fun, it just is a happy album.
    knuw1
    This album blew my mind! Def like the use of live instruments on the album.
    jinsu2301
    this album wasn't what I expected at all, especially after Human After All and the Legacy OST. But I'm surprised in a very positive way.
    withoutanyname
    If popular music could get back to this kind of sound, crystal clear recording, great mixing, awesome drum & bass section, nice composition. Not the saturated compressed overproduced misused auto-tuning synth attack with prohibited guitars and the same sound for everyone.
    CoolMcAwesome
    OVerall the album sounds great. very crisp production. Some solid tunes on this album also. However, as a daft punk album, it just doesn't fully "do it" for me. Too much vocals on the tracks. takes away the funk for me.
    slash_015
    Liked them, since i know them. Great Album, great composers. End of discussion.
    --ESTRANGED--
    also, to the uneducated cretin that wrote this review: " Synthpop isn't one of my favorite genres and neither is disco" its NOT synthpop. Not once did you mention french house either. It bares more of a connection to funk than disco.
    jinsu2301
    I don't know... the string sections, the repeating refrains, the simple structures, the straight 4/4 beat...sounds very late-70's-disco to me...
    CoolMcAwesome
    I'll agree that it reminds me of disco. After hearing a few tracks, I could easily imagine doing coke to this stuff.
    Shavyi
    The thing is, this record is bad and the press and everybody tries to "save" them, because they are kind of hype... Those guys did something called Alive 2007. This is really electro, and one of the best electro album I ever heard. But the Random Access Memories, it is nice if we speak about funk and pop, not electro.
    GenerationKILL
    This album was a major letdown. Its all hype and overrated. Say you're having sex with a girl who just lies there like a dead fish and you want to set the tone, put the new daft punk album on. Because its F*CKING BORING. Seriously. It sounds like some 5am shit when you're coming down from abunch of uppers. Jamiroquai did this 10 years ago, only back then it was stylish and "new." (He also did it better.) This album bored me 3 listens later, so its now gone off my ipod. Its just too "plain" and monotonous. It would probably go good with old slow-a** elevators, heroin, seniors water aerobics and maybe shopping on a sunday morning, still drunk from the night before, while wearing a house coat. I'm not normally this passionate in my hatred for a new release, but this album was a major let-down. Most of the girls and metro "artsy" guys with neckbeards love this album (the latter, only because they probably think it'll help them get into girls' pants who are normally repulsed by them.) But not me. I have a fairly open mind about stuff, just not this time.
    MFrivera5
    NILE RODGERS contributed to 3 of the best tracks on this album; "Give Life Back To Music", "Loose Yourself To Dance", and "Get Lucky". I Guess this record will add several thousand to the already gigantic sum of 100,000,000 that he has already sold. P.S. I'm surprised such a talented guitarist/producer wasn't mentioned by anyone here. AND OH YEAH, MUSIC IS ABOUT EVOKING EMOTION! NOT ABOUT GENRE SUPREMACY NOR FLAMBOYANT TECHNIQUES!
    JDR3009
    I wouldn't say this is a "bad" album, but it's really nothing innovative or particularly special. I feel like it's getting 99% of its praise just because it's Daft Punk, and that if this came out from some unestablished new band people would just say "oh they're just latching on to the 70s and it's redundant already". I love old Daft Punk, but this is nothing special by their standards.
    gateway01
    personally, I'm a "Human After All" kind of guy. But I like heavy music, so that's me. This album is still great, just not exactly what I like in electronic music.
    Kueller917
    As has been mentioned a few times it's just really a 70s revival. That said though I really enjoyed the album. The highs are really fun and catchy. The lows of the album though, mainly the slower tracks, are pretty forgettable and I think that held the album down for me. Overall good though.
    --ESTRANGED--
    this album is bland. everyone here's just slobbin on it cos its for "hurr reeeel guituuurs" learn to appreciate ALL kinds of music before slating dubstep, house or any other form of edm. it takes as much skill as it does to sit and learn guitar as it does to sit and learn how to progrm synths, different kinds of synthesis, learn how dynamic processing works, mixdowns, mastering and so on. ****ing musical snobbery at its finest on this site.
    TheMarrtyr13
    When I heard that Daft Punk had a new album coming out I was ecstatic! Random Access Memories is definitely a revival of the old school disco music! They always change up there style and make it work so incredibly well! I love the fact that there was a good mix between the actual instrumentation and electronic and can keep my entertained through my work week. This album has a lot of potential. It personally isn't my favorite Daft Punk album but it's great nonetheless!
    Jozef23
    To me, this is album of the year (slightly in front of QOTSA) so far. It's just everything I wanted them to do and they still surprised me. Favourite tracks are Doin it Right, Fragments of Time, Contact and Lose Yourself to Dance
    Richardbs
    Jesus people are so picky on here. Just appreciate the album for what it is. It's a great album. No 'meh' or 'kinda' about it. It's a great piece of artwork to add to the Daft Punk discography.
    uprawrock
    At first listen, this is one of the most interesting new albums I've heard this year. The reviewer's summary, especially "...utilizing almost exclusively real instruments recorded specifically for this project" makes it sound like a new idea, and that it isn't how people have written songs for hundreds of years.
    Camron62\m/
    Well, of course it isn't a new idea, but to use real instruments exclusively for house music is rare, and Daft Punk makes it work. Hell, there you have it: DISCO.