The always-ahead-of-their-time Daft Punk are back with Random Access Memories, their fourth album (fifth if you count the Tron 2 soundtrack, but I don’t). I’ve made no secret of the fact that I haven’t particularly liked a Daft Punk album outside of Discovery, and even the back half of that LP loses me most of the time. It’s a weird problem of mine, I guess, that, at this point in my life, I genuinely like this band, but I can’t really break them out of the singles zone. Then again, maybe that’s exactly where they belong… I can’t say I listen to a lot of dance/electronica/techno/whatever. But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.
Anyway, that’s kind of a moot, because, as if bored of being on the front line of electronic music for so long, Daft Punk has done something pretty different for RAM. This isn’t catchy electronica or whatever that Tron soundtrack was, but rather an effort to recapture the vibe of the music that was clearly the most influential on the duo: disco of the late ’70s and early ’80s. To that end, they’ve abandoned samples in favor of live performances, and brought in a collection of superstar session players to play those parts.
This approach is most apparent on “Giorgio by Moroder” a sweet nine minute jam session featuring narration by the Giorgio Moroder himself, talking about his career and his contributions to music. On one hand, it’s very humble and sweet. On the other, it’s kind of weird to have to listen to that interview every time I want to listen to that song. I think I prefer the collaborations that fall a bit more on the traditional side, like “Touch” and “Doin’ It Right,” featuring Paul Williams and Panda Bear, respectively. And of course “Get Lucky,” the lead single and one of two tracks with Pharrell Williams, is certainly eligible to be the summer jam of 2013.
Anyway, Random Access Memories is, without question, the easiest Daft Punk album for me to listen to so far. Even Discovery, and undisputed classic, wears on me as I get through the second half. I don’t know if it’s the new approach, the hype, or just really great music, but I think Daft Punk did some damn fine work here. So if you’ve been waiting on this one, get on with it, man. Shit’s hot.
Favorite Tracks: “Touch,” “Get Lucky,” “Doin’ It Right”