Augmented by a number of guest vocalists – ranging from Pharrell Williams to Julian Casablancas – Daft Punk’s new album Random Access Memories is a modern and slick attempt to “give life back to music” and is an attempt that is entirely successful.
As mentioned, the album has several guest vocalists. With voices often changing from song to song, it had to be a challenge to make the album a cohesive whole. The band’s steady and interesting soundscapes made this a possible task, with the band’s seemingly ever-present guitar augmented by synths, strings, and steady percussion.
Opening track “Give Life Back to Music” is a great starter, kicking off the album with a swirling buildup before settling-in to its groove. “Music” has an easy, confident cool about it that only happens when a band is fully competent with all of the tools at its disposal, as Daft Punk undoubtedly is.
The guest vocalists also offer some highlights. On “Instant Crush,” Julian Casablancas displays a sincerity that is almost never heard on albums by his band the Strokes, with his vocals delivered through a vocoder, something that is also not common for Casablancas. The two tracks with Pharrell Williams, “Lose Yourself to Dance” and “Get Lucky,” add some smooth, almost r&b, flavors to the album. “Touch” with Paul Williams is almost ballad-like at times, with the song’s many changes acting as a nice transition in the middle of the album.
The best track, though, is the album’s vocal-less closer “Contact.” The pipe-organ-synth gives an eerie feel to the track, the dirge enveloping your senses as the drums begin a series of rhythms that would make even Dave Grohl jealous. The album’s other twelve tracks almost feel like a prelude or build-up, with “Contact” being what really lifts the band up into the upper atmosphere.
While not necessarily an unequivocal classic, Random Access Memories is a fine piece of work and could very well be the best thing you listen to all year.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5