The new Daft Punk album leaked, and the music world is scrambling. Thoughtful individuals are trying to process it as fast as they can in order to make an observation more astute than those around them. Journalists are trying to figure out how to rip the album to shreds, proclaim it as one of the best, or find some sensible middle ground, depending on who they write for, what’s on the agenda, and/or what they really believe. Labels, publicists, and associates are all trying to make sure that whatever busy social media platform you’re wasting time on, there is a clickable and tempting buy-link popping up.
If you’re looking for an honest and thorough assessment of Random Access Memories right now, you’re not going to find it. It takes more than a day to process an album, and everyone is just jumping in the conversation to cash in on the hot topic before we all inevitably move on. The real story about this album is more complicated than the music. It’s about a genre, a gap between who Daft Punk mattered to THEN, who Daft Punk matters to NOW, and who is still trying to figure out why, exactly, Daft Punk matters so much. It’s not a simple situation.
It’s been over eight years since Daft Punk’s last studio album, Human After All. In that time, electronic music has gone through hyperactive growth and a series of transitions that has been the most exciting and confusing mainstream music explosion since hip-hop’s genesis.
Electronic music has been around for decades, but a huge portion of the audience is new. These are kids who don’t know about disco; they don’t know about the history of house; they don’t know about where Daft Punk came from and who the fuck Paul Williams is. Is this stuff important? Sure it is (read about it here), but let’s not kid ourselves—the way we’re judging this Daft Punk album is distorted no matter who we are. Take into consideration the suspenseful roll-out, the state of electronic music, the undeniable influence of Daft Punk on so many of today’s most popular artists, and the fact that the audience is so desperately trying to wrap their heads around this as fast as possible because it’s been building up for. so. long. and. IT’S. FINALLY. HAPPENING. No matter what, it’s impossible to get a grip on Random Access Memories right now.
The new Daft Punk album is here. It has arrived. Sit with it for a minute. Let it sink in. Play it at your next party. Let it spin at 3 a.m. when you’re high/drunk/sober/happy/alone/with friends/depressed/whatever. Give it a little time. Let this album live.
The new Daft Punk album is here. It has arrived. Sit with it for a minute. Let it sink in. Play it at your next party. Let it spin at 3 a.m. when you’re high/drunk/sober/happy/alone/with friends/depressed/whatever. Give it a little time. Let this album live. Music isn’t a science—it breathes and moves, it adjusts to its surroundings. We know that everyone wants to figure this out as quickly as possible, but that’s not the way to take in music, and an album release like this one just shows more clearly than ever how unhealthy the state of music really is. We are literally trying to review albums—no, album leaks—within 24 hours. When it’s something with as much history, anticipation, and relevance as the new Daft Punk project, is that really how we want to handle it?
In all fairness, we at Pigeons & Planes felt the same pressures. We emailed about how to cover it, if we wanted to do a knee-jerk reaction after one listen, or if we’d just be late. For now, we’ll let it sit. Instead, have a look at what some professional musicians think, and if you haven’t already listened and made up your mind, stream Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories here.