Daft Punk's Slide Kelsey Moore
Daft Punk opens up “Give Life Back To Music” with heavy guitar riffs, snare hits followed by cymbal crashes, and a synthesizer to give it that funky feel. This combination of various sounds carries on for the next minute or so and is then accompanied by an automated voice repeating the words “Let the music in tonight (Just turn on the music)/ Let the music of your life (Give life back to music)”. It sounds and feels like a song about a machine that has suddenly gained consciousness, but lacks the classic, electronica consciousness it once had. The instruments used in this song—synthesizers, guitars, pianos, vocals—they sound good, but they just don’t feel good. Random Access Memories is an album that strays away from the futuristic, electronica theme, and instead goes in the direction of obnoxious club music, which alienates long-time followers of the band. There isn’t one song that has me thinking about it for hours after I’m finished, which is something that shows a lack of effort on their part.
The fact that this album is disappointment because of its diversion from its original techno feel is the point I’m trying to convey in this review. Techno (or electronica) is a style of music that focuses on futuristic, creative, diverse sounds with a lack of human influence. Random Access Memories is an album that has a great deal of generic club noise, which makes me wonder whether or not Daft Punk were trying to capture a young demographic before it was too late, and thus created a product that was not sincere to who they are. I understand that there are times where a group wants to try something new to attract another audience, but when the project is filled with boring intros, trite and overused beats, and singers who don’t mesh at all with the feel of the album, it becomes a fail.
The album has an intentional club-like style to it, but sometimes a little bit of something is a lot better than a lot of something. Sure, Daft Punk has had some great hits that have that club feel, such as “Crescendolls” and “One More Time” from Discovery, but there are so many songs on Random Access Memories that go overboard and come off as obnoxious. For example, “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself To Dance”, which feature Hip-Hop and R&B star Pharrell Williams, sound like the stuff you’d hear at a packed, sweaty club where people just want to “get lucky”. I have no issue with club music about having a good time, but the original Daft Punk was all about just losing yourself in the electronic sound; a sound which is diluted with the saturation of human voices. The human voice is a great instrument in many classic albums, but it, again, takes away from the automaton flow that made Daft Punk so popular. The one song on this album that managed to capture my attention is “Doing It Right”, featuring techno artist Panda Bear. This single has a great feel to it because it implements a robotic voice to keep the beat, and the voice of Panda Bear, with the latter only appearing in the chorus instead of in every single line like so many other singles. Daft Punk hit some success with this cool, memorable song, but fell flat when it came to everything before it and after it.
By keeping at least some pieces of electronica, Random Access Memories strikes up slight memories of Discovery and Homework, but replaces the overall feel by, dare I say, selling out in order to get more commercial success. What made Daft Punk so influential to the music industry is the fact that they weren’t afraid venture from the norm of performers. They wore—and still do—these robotic, super-futuristic costumes which tied in greatly with the electronic, flamboyant punch of their music. Even when they weren’t performing, the duo could be seen on the red carpet or in an interview wearing their robotic outfits, so it gave that authentic feel of robots creating robot-like music. The music that they created was able to reach everyone because it came from a group that was confident enough to give life to new rhythm.
So that makes Random Access Memories all the more disappointing. As I listened to each song I couldn’t tell whether or not Daft Punk was as committed to this album as they were to the others. Perhaps it is because they are getting up there in age (they are in their forties right now) and are burnt out due to all of the different beats they’ve made throughout the years. How well would un-appealing songs such as “Game of Love”, “Get Luck”, “Lose Yourself To Dance” and many others had been if they had the same creative, techno power of their past works? Hopefully we can get an answer to that question in future projects.