Once you free your mind about the concept of… music being ‘correct,’ you can do whatever you want. So nobody told me what to do, and there was no preconception of what to do.
Giorgio Moroder in Daft Punk’s “Giorgio By Moroder”
Yes, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories has been hyped to Neptune and back and yes, maybe it’s far from the most cutting-edge dance music out there. I wouldn’t know for sure about that last part because I’m far from the most cutting-edge dance music listener out there. One thing I do know: More than a few opinions I’ve heard about RAM (including mine) went from, “There’s a few great tracks here, but overall, why the fuss?” to “Now I can’t stop listening” somewhere between the first and third spin. This album can go from “lackluster” to “Wow, check out all that luster!” ludicrously fast.
And usually that evolution of opinion is preceded by something like, “Once I got past the hype/ my expectations of what a Daft Punk album should sound like…” Me, I was perfectly happy to hear Daft Punk crank out awesome disco jams for the rest of their life, but once I got past the hype, I was pleasantly surprised by where they’ve decided to go instead. I mean, they’re still capable of cranking out awesome disco jams (“Lose Yourself To Dance,” “Get Lucky”) but now they’re also capable of something more. The Paul Williams collaboration (“Touch”) is one of the most poignant tracks I’ve heard in a while, transcribing the entire spectrum of emotions a cyborg must experience when confronting love, from desire to fulfillment to cold reality. If you ask me, “Touch” is as much a testament to the soul as “One More Time” or “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” is a testament to human partying.
There will be so many opinions on Random Access Memories. I certainly don’t think it’s flawless, and I can’t argue with people who simply don’t feel what it’s doing. But I hope people won’t dismiss it merely because it doesn’t fit exactly what they expect from Daft Punk, or 21st Century dance music. Past the hype, Daft Punk has created a work of timeless beauty and mechanical sex appeal, a cultural singularity that deserves at least one of your listens. After all, we are all cyborg alien ghosts made of stars, and this is our soundtrack.