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.