Album review: Daft Punk, Random Access Memories (Sony Music)

4.00

Album of the Week: Thrilled by some old-school sounds and a starry cast

The opening lines “Let the music of your life/ give life back to music” set out Daft Punk’s intentions from the start. On their fourth studio album, and first in eight years, Daft Punk give life back to music.

With Random Access Memories they have created an album that could only have been made wholly in the studio with real instruments and musicians (including an orchestra and children's choir). And the musicians on board are a starry cast: Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers, Julian Casablancas, Panda Bear, Paul Williams, Todd Edwards and Giorgio Moroder.

Like their Discovery LP which laid fresh pathways for pop and dance in 2001, Random Access Memories breathes life into the safe music that dominates today’s charts, with its sheer ambition; for pretty much the only thing not unexpected on this adventurous odyssey through disco, rock, funk and futuristic sounds, is Parisians Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo’s vocoded vocals. It’s an exciting journey, and one that, for all its musical twists and turns, has its feet planted on the dancefloor.

“Give Life Back to Music” has the same brilliant disco, prog-venturing, vibe of their Nile Rodgers funk guitar-fuelled No 1 single “Get Lucky”. Only Daft Punk can get away with the twisting and downright bonkers directions of the eight-and-a-half-minute “Giorgio by Moroder”. Opening with the electro-disco pioneer’s story of his drive to be a musician using the sounds of the 50s, 60s, 70s and the future, it branches gloriously into disco, building climactic layers of shimmering cosmic magic with synths, noodling electric jazz piano, strings and scattered beats. If that sounds odd, it’s nothing compared to the musical theatre crooning of Paul Williams on “Touch”.

Ambition is never at the cost of emotional depth. There’s a melancholic thread which runs through some of the album, not least in “Instant Crush” with its elegiac vocals from The Strokes’ frontman, while the classical piano-led ballad “Within” resounds with yearning lyrics: “Many rooms to explore but the doors are the same”.

Five years in gestation in comparison to Human After All’s mere six weeks, it’s a journey worth the wait. Surely to be the most thrilling album of the year.

Download: Give Life Back to Music; Giorgio By Moroder; Instant Crush; Get Lucky

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Arts and Entertainment
Queen Christina left the judges baffled with her audition
X Factor
Arts and Entertainment
The Vienna State Opera
opera
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'
musicLilly Wood and Robin Schulz bag number one single
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories