Oh, Daft Punk. I am certain that I have very little to say about this album that hasn’t already been said. That said, I’m still totally going to talk about it.
It’s interesting to note that the artists who dislike this album are artists who have, stylistically, changed very little over the years. Modeselektor found the album’s live instruments and lack of synths to be dull. It all sounds a bit hypocritical coming from them, though, since they rarely stray from their particular brand of synthy, bassy IDM. And, don’t get me wrong, I love their music. But they haven’t tried anything new or groundbreaking in quite some time.
On the other hand, Diplo enjoyed the album. I cannot stand Diplo as a person or a music producer, but the points he makes about the album ring true for me. And, unlike Modeselektor, Diplo changes his style weekly. He used to do electro-hip-hop. He dabbled in moombahton for a bit there. He’s now gotten into the garbage EDM/brostep scene, but you can’t fault him for not trying new things. And he loved the album.
I’m not trying to prove anything here (since with two examples I couldn’t prove anything anyway), but I think it’s an interesting correlation. It’s fascinating how polarizing this release has been.
In any case, I really enjoyed it. A few of the songs drag on a bit, but overall it sounds like a breath of fresh air. The live drums give it a sense of openness. “Giorgio by Moroder,” with its out-of-nowhere turns, is definitely a highlight. The synth line that goes through the song really makes it. The two songs with Pharrell Williams are surprisingly fun. “Contact” is simply a brilliant and bombastic ending to an already impressive album. And the NASA sample is pretty neat.
The one track I was looking forward to most was “Doin’ it Right” with Panda Bear (listen to it above). I absolutely love Animal Collective, so seeing worlds collide like this was going to be interesting whether the song was a flop or not. And it turned out to be the best song on the album. Not only is it the most Daft Punk-y song there, but Noah Lennox’s vocals simply sound brilliant next to those vocoders.
I should mention that I’m not a huge Daft Punk fan. I like the random song here or there, but I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to one of their albums straight through. This one, though, is just fascinating. It has its low points like any Daft Punk album, but it’s stylistically so sound that it’s just a great listen. I can’t really explain why I enjoy it so much. Will it be heralded as their greatest album? Probably not. But it might make us take a closer look at electronica and, maybe, send the genre in a bit of a different direction.