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Ears and Fingers 5/30/13

Daft Punk – ‘Random Access Memories’
By Jason Leger

I feel I should apologize to at least three parties. First of all, to you, my readers, I misspoke and was flippant with your trust. I’m sincerely sorry. I also feel I should apologize to Cayucas for giving them a title before all the entries were in. Lastly, my most heartfelt apology goes to Daft Punk. The French duo’s new album, “Random Access Memories,” is so smooth, funk-driven, danceable, and breezy; it just has to be the album of summer 2013. Sorry to bump you, Cayucas, you put up a solid effort, but there’s really no contest.

Every song here exudes sunshine, relaxation, and gloss, and could honestly provide a backdrop to most—if not all—summer activities. A couple of months ago, Daft Punk released the single “Get Lucky,” featuring Pharrell Williams, which, with its free spirited composition and infectious hook, gave us a taste of what was to come. The song also displayed one of the album’s impressive cameos, which also includes Julian Casablancas from the Strokes, Nile Rodgers from Chic and Panda Bear from Animal Collective.

The duo had a very big vision for this album, noticeable from the onset, as they vowed to limit themselves to a more organic sound, removing the use of drum machines and, for the most part, samples, which have both been bread and butter for Daft Punk to this point. Thankfully, Daft Punk have kept true enough to themselves to overdose us on vocoder, otherwise this entire venture would be nearly unrecognizable.

Perhaps, the most important thing to realize about “Random Access Memories” is how much of an attempt it is to rescue a dying art. The art of the full length album is something that is by and large being replaced by the EP or the single—a trend which Daft Punk are battling against with the release of this long player.

The album is an entire work, an entire journey that winds and moves and lives. If one makes the mistake of listening to bits and pieces without immersing in the entirety, then one risks missing the bigger picture and will not fully realize Daft Punk’s vision of grandeur fulfilled with layers of lush instrumentation, rapidly shifting moods, and sharp rhythms which demand movement even down to a head nod or a toe tap. Resistance is futile.

More upbeat numbers like “Lose Yourself to Dance” and grandiose opener “Give Life Back To Music,” lead way into more introspective moments like “The Game of Love” and “Within,” creating an aural landscape for the listener to ebb and flow through. The absolute high point, and I think this is easily agreeable possibly even for the band themselves, is the nine-minute roller coaster, “Georgio by Moroder.”

Moroder is a musician and producer who was a visionary and pioneer during the era of disco. Daft Punk asked Moroder to speak about his life and work briefly and so they could record his story and add a soundtrack reminiscent of his work. The result is an almost 10-minute tribute to Moroder narrated by his own words and laid out in his spirit. It’s a very moving track and proves the high point of “Random Access Memories.”

That being said, however, does not serve to discount the rest of the album. There is enough energy, fervency, passion, depth, soul, emotion, and heart to make this a Daft Punk classic and rank it with, if not above, previous efforts. “Random Access Memories” is out now via Columbia Records.