What is weirder: the idea of a masked robotic duo creating vintage, funky music or the fact that their experiment mostly works?
Whatever the reason may be, Daft Punk’s cold and futuristic style works exceptionally well with the hooks, beats and indulgent rhythms of the ‘80s music they chose to emulate. Their latest album “Random Access Memories,” performed by the forward-thinking synthetic pop duo, is a pun on computer RAM imbued with a surprising human touch.
De Homem-Christo and Bangalter were smart to release “Get Lucky” as the album’s promotional single. Addictive and unashamedly cheesy (“Like the legend of the phoenix/All ends with beginnings”), the track expresses a happy-go-lucky attitude absent from most modern records. Smooth vocals and a groovy style, it turns out, is a formula that can still succeed. Daft Punk’s approach of using only vintage microphones and limited electronic tools, along with their honest reverence of older artists (by using their techniques and hiring them for vocals), is clearly conveyed.
Not every attempt is as successful — some tracks revel in cliche and excessive flamboyance. “Giorgio by Moroder,” the third and longest track of the album, consists of a dragged-out monologue from a famous — and long-forgotten — Italian artist, a clearly artificial ploy to be emotionally reflective and “deep.” Similar failures, more suitable for Rickrolling than for aural pleasure, only manage to deflate the album’s hard-earned momentum.
Luckily, those duds are surrounded by fresh, creative sounds. Disco-rific songs like “Give Life Back to Music,” “Instant Crush” and “Fragments of Time,” as their names suggest, are nostalgic in the best possible way. These great moments are enough to overcome the flat ones; even a stone-cold reviewer like me was induced into a state of head-bobbing.
As a collection of tracks built around a theme, either by design or by execution, “Random Access Memories” is a little chaotic and overstuffed. Some of its 74-minute run time is dedicated to repetitive and thinly-conceived tracks, and with some selective cutting, it could be a much tighter package. But the album is far more than the sum of its parts, and we give it 4 stars out of 5 for Daft Punk’s pure ambition.