Daft Punk – Random Access Memories Review

Random Access Memories is the pretty much the fourth studio album if you ignore the Tron Legacy soundtrack, which makes it eight years since their last proper album with Human After All. That album has often been considered to be the poorest of their previous three; so to wait that long for a proper response from the Parisian duo is a little odd but then again, so are Daft Punk. They thrive on odd. A word of caution with this album though. Yes it’s making big waves in the charts and has several critics like those from the NME drooling in a semi – concious state; but many are very much pretenders who probably think Daft Punk are new or something when in fact this is their 20th year give or take. So don’t judge the album on those types of people. Judge it on the music. (famous last words…)

One word with this album. COLLABORATIONS! Lots of em! Two of them of which are the most prominent appear in their single ‘Get Lucky’. This song is a symbol of them largely ditching their samples and getting in live musicians to replace them to replicate the musical era that appeals most to them: the late 70’s and the 1980’s. To do this they enlisted the help of Nile Rodgers, and his simple yet rythmic 70’s dicso guitar riff drives the song in a subtle way which at the same time speaks volumes on a Daft Punk track. The bass mirrors this to really get a beat and continuous ‘groove’ going throughout the song. Pharrell Williams’ higher pitched vocals on the chrous and his lower pitched, drawn out vocal on the verses are both reflective of a 70’s disco tune and compliment the range of sounds from the low bass line, Rodger’s guitar riff inbetween and Pharrell’s vocals at the top of the range when joined by the vocoder manipulated vocals; just comes together in effortless fashion. This is in part due to the slick work from Thomas and Guy in the way of production. It is perhaps even more heavily produced than any of their previous albums due to the scrutiny and re-working that will have been done on the live instruments and vocals to make them sound as clean and as crisp as possible. If it’s done right then a heavily produced album works and it’s the case here too. ‘Instant Crush’ features another big collaboration with the Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas who I can imagine loving working with Daft Punk as his 2009 solo album Phazes For The Young might indicate. This song features a simple yet effective plucked guitar riff with some basic synth chords but these step up during the chrous and largely takes over from the guitar. The guitar riff is similar to that of Andy Summers on the famous ‘Every Breath You Take’ single of 1983 and has the same hook providing effect. Julians vocals are also put through the vocoder or whatever vocal manipulating equipment they have at their disposal. The vocal approach of Casablancas is more of a subtle ‘One Way Trigger’ sort of vocal and despite the manipualtion of his vocal, you can still detect the character of Julians voice too which gives it a dual quality and compliments the music well but not smothering it either.

Panda Bear joins Daft Punk with the song ‘Doin It Right’ which starts off with a heavily vocoded vocal with the repetitive “Everybody will be dancing…” which becomes the rythm section as Panda Bear’s vocals interlock with the manipulated, rythmic vocal brilliantly. ‘Fragments Of Time’ featuring Todd Edwards barely sounds like a Daft Punk tune which is pretty much a direct reflection of the 70’s and 80’s disco and R&B references with their subtle, broken organ and synth sounds joining in on the chorus. The vocals go well with the sort of music being represented but are pretty standard. Perhaps this song will be a little hard to understand for die hard Daft Punk fans but musically it’s pretty sound if vocally a little off. Songs such as ‘Game Of Love’ can at times sound like vocoder overload, but after a few listens it does grow on you slightly and the funk style instumentals sort of match up with that and the synths in a type of unconventional union of old and retro with new and futuristic. But this union is conducted much better on other tracks such as ‘Give Life Back To Music’ which again has another notable contribution for Nile Rodgers. The song itself builds up well on the bridge between verses with effective results. Beyond even starts off with a string orchestra before going into the electro – retro fusion and this is something that has been achieved to great success with this album. The fact that ‘Get Lucky’ should be a good event for people. Eventhough it’s being played to death at the moment, it’s a proper song in how it’s been crafted by musicians, written by musicians, produced by musicans and played by musicians and talented ones at that with bags of experience. The fact this sort of music is topping the charts whether it’s your thing or not should be celebrated. Thomas Bangalter pointed towards the likes of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd and Sgt Pepper from The Beatles as “the ones that take you on a journey for miles and miles.” They all served as some of the several models for creating an album that provides that journey which they have managed to achieve in a sense you can become engrossed and lost within it. Many say it’s their best album and im not sure. Perhaps it is in how they are more skilled now and have proved successful with this different approach. But it’s not so important right now. People should just enjoy what is more than just a solid album from the French duo.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories = 8.5/10

File:Random Access Memories.jpg

Images from http://en.wikipedia.org / www.last.fm


  1. Hi! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post
    reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking
    about this. I will forward this post to
    him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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