Album Review: Random Access Memories (2013) – Daft Punk


Random Access Memories Album Cover; Link:< >

“… And it’s crystal clear,
That I don’t ever want it to end…”

– Todd Edwards, Fragments of Time, RAM

Daft Punk’s album from 2013, Random Access Memories, could easily be introduced to the intrigued layman with a singular phrase. Since that phrase happens to be “Grammy Album of the Year”, it’s easy to incline your mind toward a certain spectrum of expectations. But I firmly believe that the label of the award, monumental achievement that it is, is fairly reductive of the experience. RAM is a lot more than just another award-winning music LP.

Where do I even start?

The album was very much meant to be a tribute to the late 70s and early 80s, and the fact that it was an intense labour of love is apparent in every single second you listen to it. Take one look at the featuring artists, and you can see names like Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, singer-songwriter Paul Williams, and the Father of Disco, Giorgio Moroder. All pioneering artists, all of them belonging to the time period that Daft Punk crafted this album as a gushing love letter to.

The album opens with Give Life Back to Music, the kind of upbeat dance song whose spirit of optimism is incompatible with modern-day cynicism. Give Life Back to Music is heavily guitar-driven, because, unlike their previous work, Daft Punk toned down their synths and let the live instrumentation take over.

Another point of interest is Daft Punk’s Robots-from-the-Future stage personas, which they religiously adhere to, with their retro-futuristic helmets and vocoder-fed vocals. And never has it been so inherently perfect for their music than the tracks The Game of Love, Within, and Beyond. The first a moody ballad, the next a piano-led introspection of desire, and finally, a grandiose song about pushing yourself to obtain what you want. Again, the lyrical quality could be accused of being saccharine, but when it’s earnest as RAM, it’s hard not to be lulled into its sensibilities.

The album also features its share of modern artists as well, including Pharrell Williams, Julian Casablancas (The Strokes’ frontman/vocalist) and Panda Bear (Animal Collective). Get Lucky was the album’s first and biggest Hit single and it’s hard not to see why. Another guitar-drenched, sunnily optimistic track that features Pharrell Williams, it can easily be seen as the centrepiece of the album, but there are a few tracks that generally fly under the radar in conversations concerning RAM.

Touch and Motherboard might probably be the least talked about songs in the whole album, and yet to me, they’re the monoliths that elevate this album to the greatest plane of adoration that my mind can afford. Touch is an 8-minute long juggling act that combines slow burn progressive synths, free-spirited jazz and an electronica symphony, and it is quite unlike anything you might’ve had the pleasure to listen to. It’s an auditory journey that surprises you, excites you and moves you. Motherboard is an abstract and eccentric collection of melodies that tensely builds up to one of the most cathartic moments in the entire album. On par with Touch, it allows you to interpret whatever meaning you seek in it.

Random Access Memories is the album that made me realise that I could feel intimate with an assorted set of atmospheric beeping sounds, and I cannot stress that fact enough. It strings you along for a bright, disco-illuminated ride, soaks you in gorgeous neon colors you never knew existed and transports you to someplace else.

It makes you wistful and nostalgic for a time you weren’t even a part of.

Adhithya Sundar

A dystopia and Indie-Rock enthusiast. I have the most fun when I blend into the shadows.

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