So it’s here. Maybe a little early but it’s still here. Now comes the unenviable task of having to review this album, *without* using the big old whacking stick too much. Everyone will criticise me anyway, so I’m just going to say it. THIS IS NOT THE ALBUM OF 2013…in fact it’s not even the album of May 2013. Yeah, yeah I’m an idiot because I don’t appreciated Nile Rogers or Panda Bear or Saint Lauren suits and weird-arse helmets. I obviously don’t appreciate good music either which is phoned in from somewhere in the galaxy where robots are really just self-indulgent men in suits pretending to be more than they really are. But I really wanted to fall in love with this album and was very ready to swallow my pride and eat my original words regarding ‘Get Lucky’. Part of me wanted to be wrong so I could say “I was wrong”. But I’m not and no vernacular will be digested from this reviewer, not now anyway, and definitely not with regards to this album, which should be titled ‘Random Arse Musings’, because honestly that’s what it is.
In isolation, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a good album, and in fact, a great album. But its not in isolation. In isolation, if this was the only offering from the French duo it would be probably rated a lot higher, but after a slew of releases before this, its not in isolation. Honestly I expected more. I picture the robots walking into the record executive’s office, sitting down and plainly stating in their sultry French accented English “ Wewant to make a new record but we have some conditions …” (do you have your best French accent on?) and the record executive says” whatever you need, robots”. But the album reads like one and obscure rider list with guests, suggestions and concepts far outweighing the actual scope of production.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding this album and you have to take all this hype into account when reviewing it. If you missed all the lead up to this album you could excused for thinking this was almost a “Daft Punk Present” kinda album. But knowing they are the producers, creators and overall controllers of this release makes for the most disappointing feeling when you give it a whirl. All of the lead up collaborator videos, single leaks and ultimately this album leak before the date suggest people were hungry for a change from them; and boy did they get it. Even Daft Punk themselves have been quoted as saying this album basically sucks. Self-deprecating for sure, but also very smart marketing. What they forgot to do in all this was deliver and ACTUAL powerhouse album. I know people will disagree and in the multitude of styles, genres and niches this definitely fits somewhere. I’m just not sure where.
Here’s a brief rundown of the tracks on the album:
‘Give Life Back To Music’ – Wow. This is pretentious. Daft Punk are not miracle workers and breathing life into this corpse would have taken a miracle. Funky, hollow and shallow. Oh yeah, and vocoder voices. Lots of them.
‘The Game of Love’ – More vocoder. Is there any end to the madness? Essentially boring.
‘Giorgio by Moroder’ – This surprisingly is an awesome track and a stand out in the album. Probably because it’s the only one with any real direction and story to the ambient pulse of the beat. I like the overall feel of this track and I think towards the end when it really starts to break down it reminds me of a more divergent sort of ambient psychedelic trance or other operatic electronic music. More soundtrack than song though at just over 9 minutes.
‘Within’ – Boring. Skip…
‘Instant Crush’ – mmmm eighties synths. Better, but not great. Slightly more interesting than the previous track.
‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ – Pharrell’s first appearance and the lesser of his two bit parts in the album. Some will like/love. Me? No…
‘Touch’ – Oh please no, it constitutes assault…of the ears. I almost fell asleep at the wheel with this going on the car stereo. It should come with a warning “WARNING: 8 minutes and Slow. Drink Coffee Before Proceeding”
‘Get Lucky’ – most of you already know how I feel about this single released to lead into the album launch and would know I was less than impressed with it. Some said it was wrong of me and others said it was “a grower”. I’ll agree with the latter, in that it has grown on me. But more like a skin cancer than a beautiful swan from the ugly duckling. Yeah its harsh.
‘Beyond’ – Starts out great. I envision dinosaurs roaming the plains or eagles flying over mountains. Then the vocoder again. Enough already. Back to the eagles soaring and shit. But no…
‘Motherboard’ – I think I missed something here. Thought I might have accidently slipped folders on the stereo and got Jethro Tull playing some tribal flute. Alas, it was not to be…More Vocoder? Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle…
‘Fragments of Time’ – Aside from Get Lucky, this is one of the only actual ‘songs’ on the album which has a start middle and end. It’s pretty damn digestible and I think this is one of the better tracks with great guitar work, vocal work by Todd Edwards and some nice electronic pianos.
‘Doing It Right’ – You like vocoder voices? You freakin better because at this point in the album all I wanted to hear was a god damn human. Still, it does have some redeeming qualities. Its short and sweet and is quite well produced. Plus Panda Bear’s on it, whoever he is…
‘Contact’ – Great samples from some Apollo missions in space and some grandiose score more suited to a movie round out this album. Somewhere in there is the fable Daryl Braithwaite sample but honestly but this stage in the listen, it’s really lost in the waves of self-indulgence.
I know this album will excite some people because it tries so hard to impress you but really all I feel is the original concept of Daft Punk lost. Originally we suspended belief that these were robots sent from space or the future to show what music was like coming from a distant possible future/realm. Now we just realise they are humans posing as robots with human failings and human actions such as self-indulgence, loss of direction and failing mortgages in need of a financial boost.