This is not a track-by-track review and is actually just a bunch of stuff I thought about while listening to the album. That said, read on…
I like to think I am a Daft Punk fan but I have some internal conflict with this concept. On the one hand I find that I admire quite a few of their productions, but some I really love and there are definitely some I hate. Calling myself a fan of anyone’s music is a tricky thing because there is so much good music out there, it’s hard to say I’m a fan of it all, I have to be picky. I could say I’m a fan of a certain album or a certain song, but to call myself a fan of any one artist is really putting a lot on the line.
Even the productions of theirs I hate, there is a lesson to be learned in all of them. As a producer, I probably listen to music differently than other — normal — people do. My word involves hours upon hours of listening to repeating loops, searching for an hour for the right kick and snare combo, and subtle variations of the same melody and/or bassline until I feel I got it right. When I listen to music, I can’t help but analyze it. This analysis, or maybe even over-analysis of music allows me the gift and curse of reviewing music in a unique way.
The meat…. What’s so special about the super-hyped-up new Daft Punk album Random Access Memories then? Well, it’s pretty f*cking different, that’s for sure. Is it EDM? Not really, but kind of. Does it sound good? Yeah, it sounds amazing. It sounds like DP sat for days picking out every single sound, meticulously — well, that’s actually exactly what they did — and it shows. The dynamics are some of the most interesting I’ve heard in an EDM album in a while. That is not to say that there aren’t some other awesome producers who get how panning and EQing works, but DP doesn’t just pan and EQ well but they do it in such a way that the sounds play together in a nice, friends-at-first-sight kind of way. Is the album flawless? No, but I think that’s the point here. It’s something different and certainly a new, bold direction for DP.
Now, I’m no expert on putting together a full-length LP, I’ve only done it twice, and I probably could have done a better job. But, from a layman’s perspective, RAM flows well, each track a natural progression from the last. I found some interesting themes present, fluctuations in emotion, if you will. At times I found myself calm and relaxed, just taking the journey, other times I aggressively rewound to listen to the same hook a few times just to let it sink it. Listening to the album is interactive. Some tracks shine more than others, a lot more. But, it’s certainly a journey. I can’t wait to play this at full volume in my car with the windows open, on the highway, and get lost in retro daydreams. That’s the kind of album this is.
One of my producer friends asked why are people so adamant that this is going to change EDM in a major way? I’m not sure that it will, but it might. Here’s why I think so… I thought the album might have some harder-hitting tracks, but it looks like DP gave away the secret weapon, which is definitely Get Lucky, on this album. But… this album is just the beginning. Soon the EDM scene will be flooded with bootleg remixes, and ripped samples.
What makes this album different than what’s out there? For one, it’s the lack of overused percussion loops, melodic hooks and samples. This album is the original real deal in EDM, something which happens rarely now-a-days, maybe because most of us lack the resources to record live music and make it sound so f*cking good, maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s a lack of inspiration in the face of over-compressed cookie-cutter beats which is what it seems like everyone is listening to right now. For once, DP didn’t sample a lot of other people’s music. This is sort of their answer to critics who threw stones every time a new sampled piece was discovered in their older projects. In any case, DP does it right, very very right with this album. Not everyone is going to get it, at first, and some are never going to get it — but I feel like I do.
I am a fan of Daft Punk, and — in my opinion — this is their best album, yet.
Stream the album on iTunes if you’ve got it. Album out in most stores on May 22nd.