The Robots’ Return

Daft Punk’s first studio album in eight years,Random Access Memories is often downtempo,sometimes rock,but mostly very enjoyable.

Written by Zaira Arslan | Published: May 16, 2013 12:06:43 am

Daft Punk’s first studio album in eight years,Random Access Memories is often downtempo,sometimes rock,but mostly very enjoyable.

A small,rural town in New South Wales,Australia,possibly unknown to most of the world,Wee Waa was to be the venue for the official release party of Daft Punk’s newest album,Random Access Memories. The record was scheduled to become available for purchase on May 20/21,but unveiled on May 17 at the Annual Wee Waa Show,which is otherwise a agricultural event. That,however,changed when the album was intentionally leaked on the evening of May 13 by their record label,Sony Music.

The French duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter became hugely popular in the late ’90s after first playing together in 1993. Their brand of electronic music — made apparent in their first studio album,Homework in 1997,followed by the massive hit record Discovery in 2001 — incorporated elements of house,funk and techno,with a heavy use of synthesisers.

Twelve years on — and eight years after the release of their third studio album,Human After All in 2005,which wasn’t anywhere near as good as its predecessor — Random Access Memories fortunately manages to bring back some of their magic. The 13 tracks on the record range from dance music,such as the lead single Get Lucky,to a downtempo ballad,Within,all the while using more conventional instruments than we have grown used to hearing from the men dubbed “the robots”.

There have been arguments that the album is too mellow,too dull and barely Daft Punk at all,but that might well be where its genius lies. It’s not straight up dance music,but with the electronic dance music (EDM) onslaught the world has seen since the duo’s last release,that can’t entirely be a negative. Listeners would also do well to remember that Daft Punk never was the kind of EDM that’s most popular now.

Seven of the 13 tracks on the album feature vocals by guest artistes,ranging from American rapper/singer Pharrell Williams and Italian dance music legend Giorgio Moroder to Julian Casablancas,frontman of American rock band The Strokes,and Academy Award-winning singer-songwriter Paul Williams. Consequently,there are more than a few elements of the ’70s disco tunes,a track or two that are rather electropop — of an enjoyable variety — and a whole lot of guitar and drums. A good mix,all in all.

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