The Mark of Excellence

Daft Punk

Random Access Memories

> > May 13 2013

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
By Stephen CarlickThe disco blueprint laid out by "Get Lucky" begins on album opener (and mission statement) "Give Life Back to Music," on which Nile Rodgers lays down his trademark wah-wah guitars while the robots command the listener to "let the music make it right." From there, Random Access Memories is a thrilling, grandiose album that defies expectations. Recorded entirely on analog gear, Daft Punk's fourth studio album finds Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo revelling in the potential of big budget studios, enlisting a host of high-profile guests to contribute to a process that, until now, had been almost entirely between just the two of them.

Despite an esteemed guest list, it's not the contributions that stand out, but the way the robots employ them. Gentle highlight "Within" features pianist Chilly Gonzalez at his heartstring-tugging best, but it's the deft Daft Punk touch — tinkling chimes and heavily filtered, woozy vocals that sound as if they're melting when they coo, "there are so many things that I don't understand" — that makes the track one of the most affecting they've ever composed. Elsewhere, they coax the best out of the misfiring Julian Casablancas, whose angelic falsetto sounds unlike anything he's done with the Strokes, while Panda Bear's straight-time, harmonized melody sounds even better frolicking in a bed of layered, vocodered voices.

Though it's breathtaking throughout, Random Access Memories is punctuated by dual climaxes, the first of which is "Giorgio by Moroder," whose throbbing, Moroder-esque Moog part and spoken word biography, by its titular collaborator — all twisted in and out of a disco groove that climaxes with a string quartet and a wailing guitar solo — make the nine minute track time fly by. The second is Paul Williams' enchanting contribution, "Touch," on which the enigmatic songwriter waxes theatrical about the power of human connection over eight minutes that shift from heartfelt ballad to Shaft-ish guitar picking, string sections, horn melodies, honky-tonk piano, and of course, disco, before an epic climax, ŕ la "A Day in the Life," leads to a moving choral denouement.

Lyrics in that song claiming it took a touch to "convince me I'm real" could be Random Access Memories' maxim — this is the album on which Daft Punk are truly and convincingly "human after all." And on this toweringly grand achievement, they've never sounded better.

To listen to the album now, head to iTunes here.
(Columbia)

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Either this review was paid for or you need a taste transplant.
2 Replies
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...maybe I'm too old for music now.
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yeah... this album is not very good..
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Tip: Try actually listening more than once and ideally not on some crap stream on your computer.
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its so good guys...
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when did daft punk become the world's best band...
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the very definition of overrated...
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This review lost me when you said "Touch" was a good song. It's true there are some great moments, it's by no means a perfect 10 album. The strokes of genius are balanced by over-indulgence, which hurts the album overall.
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Its a great album but faaaaaaaaaar from perfect. More like an 8. "Touch" and "Contact" for sure should've been 2-3mins shorter alotta wasted space on those tracks imo.
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The album is definitely not a perfect 10. But still it is Daft Punk's best album. Touch is the best song of the year so far...
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6/10
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Well, its no $5000 Boards of Canuck 12 incher...
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You guys are the ones with bad taste. Then again, art is subjective. From my perspective, it's the best album I've heard in years.
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The guy who reviewed this gave Boards of Canada Tommorow's Harvest a 7. This guy sucks. I guess BoC didn't give him enough interviews to warrant a better score.
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