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ALBUM REVIEW: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Welcome back, Daft Punk
by Gelo Gonzales | May 16, 2013
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Two months ago, Daft Punk released a batch of ads on Saturday Night Live for their upcoming album, Random Access Memories. The teasers ended up as some of the most successful ads in the history of teaser ads, with views numbering in the millions on YouTube; its presence bolstered by a multitude of bedroom remixes making do with what essentially were 15-second bits and pieces from the record.

With that, the hype train for Random Access Memories, the duo’s first full studio album in eight years, had begun—a huge part of the excitement stemming from listeners speculating on what these electronic fire starters can do at a time when DJs have become arena-filling festival headliners. This week, all that speculation finally gives way to a flood of Daft Punk posts on Facebook impressions as the album can now be heard (legally) via iTunes streaming and (not-so-legally) through other online means. 

We listened, and below is what we thought of it. 

For anyone expecting the French duo to induce epileptic seizures with heavy electro bass whomping, Random Access Memories will disappoint. The record, essentially a throwback to funk and disco, slows it down. It’s almost like a tender prom song in a sea of raging EDM club remixes, fueled by sway and feel rather than measured ticks. There is a generous serving of nostalgia in these songs—the kind that says hey guys, jumping around was never the only way to dance. 

In this sense, the album’s sorta like a big middle finger to the testosterone-fueled, drop-addicted, dirty-bass driven, fist-pumping neo-rave generation.

(But hey that’s just us being totally crass.)

Bucking the trends that they themselves helped create, Daft Punk proceeds with a fresh aesthetic that sees them fusing slick guitar work, booming drums, and a reverberating, studio-like feel with their signature electronic sounds. The resulting contrast between the organic and the electronic--delivered in varying measures in every song--is beautiful, and binds the entire thing together. The vocal tracks are prime evidence: in some songs, it's as around-the-world robotic as ever, and in others, warm and completely human.

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NEXT: Daft Punk is starting anew

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