Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Independent since 1920

Review: Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

It’s been eight long years since the duo who pushed the boundaries of EDM last released a studio album. The scene now is not like the scene then – it has become formulaic and commercial. Random Access Memories is not formulaic, for all its inevitable commercial success. It refuses to do what we expect of a dance album – its instrumentation refuses to be tamed; its tone refuses to be consistent. The hype made me believe that this album would be defining. And after hearing it, I still do.

The variety will astound. The backbone, as always with Daft Punk, remains synth riffs, and they have produced some of the all-time greats. ‘Giorgio by Moroder’, a nod to their musical ancestors, is the only history lesson you will ever dance to. ‘Motherboard’ delves into realms of electro beyond dance. ‘Contact’ will shake you, crashing drums framed by throbbing synths, an album finale worthy of Justice’s best live work.

Nile Rodgers’ choppy guitar does not, as I thought it might, drive the album, but is instead scattered throughout the album’s funky off-beat. ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ is a highlight for those out just to move their feet. The talent of Daft Punk is such, however, that this is not a set of songs aimed solely at dancing — ‘Within’ is a piano ballad crossed with a voice changer, ‘Beyond’ a grand symphony. ‘Instant Crush’ has it all, with Casablancas finding the vocal melody for a heartwrenching set of lyrics and a synth chorus to lift you to the stars.
But notice that I discuss these songs by style, not arrangement. It is a set of songs of stunning vision which at times feel disconnected from each other. The jarring and experimental ‘Touch’ sits between two of the liveliest dance tracks on the album for no apparent reason, for instance.

Difficulties of arrangement are perhaps the inevitable side effect of trying to compose an album as visionary as this. 70s guitars, an 80s producer, 90s voice changers, and an album to be idealised in the future.

Track to download: Things Will Change

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles