Thursday, May 23, 2013

Daft Punk - Why Random Access Memories Might Be The Most Important Rock Album of 2013

Daft Punk reminds us that we can make musical dreams come true, that's why. Random Access Memories is a concept come to life in a way that's been missing from music for too long. Is it the best album of 2013? Well, that's a very subjective thing, and how in the fuck do you measure that anyway?

It is a great record - it is well written, incredibly well played by some of the best ever, and it's so pleasing to the ears that it will make kids want big speakers again. Could it be that the robots finding a heart may be more key than we're aware? Daft Punk haven't taken down the wall, they've done better - they've become vulnerable, while reminding us of our own humanity at the same time.

Get Lucky hits me with a groove as shocking as hearing Miss You was in 1978. The Stones did disco better than most, and they never put down their Strats to do it. My friend, Dan Boul of 65amps, has been on a tear recently, preaching the need for a return of rhythm to rock - it's gotta get you moving and allow you to stop over thinking, and he is dead on, absolutely right. He's nailed it. Rock 'N' Roll fer crissakes. The minute I heard that Nile Rodgers, Omar Hakim, and Nathan East were the heartbeat behind this tune it hit my speakers, and I've been playing it ever since. Spotify says it is their most played song ever, and I can certainly get that.

Random Access Memories' importance is not in whether it's the best album of 2013, though it will certainly make a lot of lists come year's end. Its importance is in the matter of intent. Daft Punk set out to make the record they always wanted to make, and they succeeded - they gathered up the finest collaborators they could, put them in great studios with great engineers, wrote a bunch of seriously compelling songs, and they made a great album.

Read that line again. They made a great album. How often do we hear ourselves saying that these days? It sounds kind of like a new toy in the hands of a very bright child. It quotes often, and well - reaching deep into the past to find the future. I trust the judgement of Niles Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder - true giants, they aren't guesting here, they are collaborating with like minded artists. Giorgio By Moroder will reinvigorate disco once again, and this time around the real musicians are back on board, making it real. The Return of the Groove.

Paul Williams is this years' John Travolta - remember when Tarantino rescued the actor with Pulp Fiction? It's a return of a favor of sorts, as without Phantom of the Paradise, the 70's sci-fi take on the classic phantom tale, Daft Punk may not exist. His star moment here is Touch, a tune that's half Studio 54/half Philip K. Dick, and it's a wonderfully cinematic piece that leads us into the hit single. Williams delivers - always a masterful writer, and he's back. I hope we hear more from him - maybe get him together with Don Was and the (Not Was) kids.

One of my gripes with electronic music is mind dulling repetition and the lack of musical dynamics - this has been resoundingly addressed, as Daft Punk have brought in Omar Hakim and John (J.R.) Robinson and set them loose. This is a great drum album, and there's never enough great drum albums.

Lose Yourself To Dance is a beautiful marriage between Nile Rodgers' homage to his own past, and fashion king Pharrell Williams' twist on The Artist Known As Whatshisname. In fact, next time out, these fellas need to get Prince on board for a smokin' guitar solo, or two. Dance music hasn't sounded this cool in three decades - how can this not excite me?

Within will be a closet classic - the robot as a man, I can't remember hearing anything so haunting for ages, and again, the melodies, the music, the production, well, everything about this sounds magical. I don't think I've been as moved by a personality piece since Bowie's Honky Dory album. Chilly Gonzales' keyboard work is stunning - beautiful, and so right for the song.

Next thing you know, kids are going to want to hear music this good on decent systems, and hell, they might even think it's worth money, and they'll buy again.

I get the arguments I've heard from both sides, that for the EDM crowd it's too organic, and for the rock crowd it may be too electric, but I don't buy it. It seems that everyone seems almost afraid to admit just how goddamned good this album is, but I'm shouting it from the rooftop - this is what is missing! Artists who are committed to making the art that lives in their hearts, bodies, and souls. It makes me think, it makes me dance, and it makes me want to make music - and that's why it is so important.

Record of the year? Well, that's a tough and subjective call, but I do think it is the most important album of the year so far. An album album, as a friend said.

No comments: