So, if you’ve been on the internet within the past six months, and are vaguely into music, you’ll have figured out that Daft Punk, the French house artists with zany helmets just released a new album. It’s entitled ‘Random Access Memories’, and I think it sucks. Not just me though. I saw a photo on Facebook of an anonymous JB HI-FI employee that described the album thus: ‘It’s like being a kid on Christmas, and running downstairs to open up the Sega you’ve been waiting all year for, only to find out that your parents are instead taking you to the vet, because you have to put the dog down.’ That, my friends, is goddamn poetry, and more entertaining than any single track found on the new Daft Punk album. Now, I don’t claim to be a critical connoisseur of any sorts, especially not of the electronic genres. My forte rather heaves on the garage spectrum of things, as yo will know if you’ve even glanced at this blog with the shitty name before. However, I do know a few things: Crystal Castles makes consistently good albums, the 90’s were a good time for dance music and Australia has an abundance of talent in the area, from obvious choices The Avalanches and Flume, to underdogs Fishing and Seekae. Now, picking on Daft Punk seems like a risque move, as they are one of the most incredibly powerful figures in dance music of all time. ‘One More Time’? ‘Around the World‘? ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’? These are not just dance music icons, but household names, all over the fricking world man! The last song was sampled in a fucking Kanye West track! That guy only samples the best of the best, like that Will Ferrell line from ‘Blades of Glory‘. However, despite pulling off one of the best launches, in Wee Waa, rural NSW, the hype has not only exceeded the actual album itself and left myself severely disappointed, but has hindered the Daft Punk legacy as a whole. Harsh, but true,as I prove that ‘Random Access Memories’ is no more than a bland, self-indulgent smothering of randomness than never peaks past ‘meh’.
Firstly, there is not a track on here worthy of note. Not fucking one. ‘NAY!’ cries every single electronica fan that hasn’t discovered The Chemical Brothers yet, ‘Nay, you ginger headed dwarfsicle! For there is ‘Get Lucky’!. Yes, and what a stellar track that is, brimming with the talent and authenticity that first attracted so many to French robot fever. That is sarcasm by the way. This is something I would half expect T-Pain to put out if he was in a creative and jazz friendly mood. This is literally a song about getting laid muffled over some jazzy, zig-zag rhythms. Not only does the auto-tune and entrance of Daft Punk bring down any of the soulful and hard-earned positive elements that Pharrell Williams brings to the track, it’s 6 minute length time definitely ensures that the most ‘likeable’ and ‘danceable’ track on the album overstays its welcome. Speaking of Pharrell, he is one of the many collaborators on this album that can’t save it from being a highly flamboyant un-ironic caricature of art. Nile Rogers, famous for his schtick with Chic, has his hand in a few tracks, including opener ‘Give Life Back to Music’ and ‘Get Lucky’, whilst the aforementioned Pharrell is seen in ‘Lose Yourself to Dance (with Nile Rogers)’. Animal Collective’s Panda Bear is evident on ‘Doin’ it Right’ and even The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas shows himself, providing vocals to album ‘highlight’ ‘Instant Crush’. This doesn’t even reach the halfway mark of the plethora of guests on ‘Random Access Memories’, however, it remains a meddling mess. A fault of too many cooks in the kitchen? I doubt it. Daft Punk’s weakness for deploying wildly overdone and tasteless orchestra arrangements is seen throughout the album, from the rash and wince-worthy opener ‘Give Life to Music’. Speaking of terrible, pompous openers, ‘Give Life to Music’ seems like a four and a half minute overdub of a Chemical Brothers track, something from the albums ‘Come With Us’ or ‘Surrender’. The auto-tuned vocals in the Daft Punk song giving the listenable appearance of a pufferfish gasping for air on the beach: it looks, smells and sounds disgusting, but you can’t help feel sorry for it.
Whilst on the warpath of declaring why the new album is devoid of listenable tracks, one can take a scour of ‘Instant Crush’ featuring Julian Casablancas, or as I like to call it: the track they left off ‘Comedown Machine’ because it sounded too similar to The Strokes 2011 album ‘Angles’. Yep, Daft Punk are almost unrecognisable in this foray of what could perhaps be the only track with what could be deemed a layer of substance. It does have a semblance of groove, but it still comes off half-hearted and plaintive, awkwardly juxtaposing the shit-shock of tracks like ‘Game of Love’ and ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’. Another of their diving into traditional singing backed by eschewed keys and a bass line that must have been lifted from a 1970’s blaxploitation film, is ‘Fragments of Time’ featuring Todd Edwards. Now, even though it has a mildly intriguing style, it isn’t anything that should incite the riot-like passion of Daft Punk’s hardest fans. It’s something you would jam to while wasting time on the train, not bust a move to on the dance floor like dance music should inspire
This is from an subjectively objective point of view: I would admit if I saw the new Daft Punk album as revolutionary as some do. It just seems that it’s been hyped beyond belief, to a point where nothing they did would have succeeded. However, it goes to a point where it’s like they are re-hashing old ideas done better by old bands. Monologues followed by down-to-earth jazz drumming and spritzy electro as seen on ‘Giorgio by Moroder’? DJ Shadow did it better on ‘Endtroducing…’. Cheesy lyrics belted out with earnestly, whilst the star of the show hums idly and seductively asI assume was the motive for ‘Get Lucky’? Our own Chet Faker kills anything Daft Punk brought to the table. Spacey, out-of-this-world bass drops with acoustic guitar plucked delicately, with ‘Motherboad’? I’ll take Radiohead thanks. Even the attempts at melodrama and over-the-top, end up somewhere Daft Punk nor the listener want to be, and it comes off as totally idiotic (see: ‘Give Life to Music).
It’s not just a case of their-old-stuff-is-better-than-their-new-stuff, but it’s just a disappointing album of flat, empty pieces of music that aren’t as shimmery or glamourous as the band hoped for. Hype can do so much, such as stir your robot-kilted fans into near-murder mania, in which they’ll stab each other to clasp their fingers around your spandex wearing, auto tuned vocal pipes. But it can’t save the album that was never meant to be anything more than filler. Unfortunately, ‘Random Access Memories’ is a robotic apocalypse filled with jarring, mostly-dumb and boring observations that have been done so many times before, it’s past the point of cliche, and into the realm of just plain sad.