Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
[Long and good to listen as you go as it is a track breakdown (ish) too - those of a lazy disposition wanting the crux of my analysis straight away skip to the last two paragraphs]
One of the most tantalising advertising campaigns of recent times was executed to pin point precision by a couple of robots whose new album is almost unarguably the most anticipated in 10 years. Employing festival screen adverts and ad break hijacks instead of banner ads has whipped the world into a frenzy. Immediately iconic album artwork revealed with clear indication to the 70’s and 80’s in the album name typeface confirmed by lead single and omnipresent Nile-athon Get Lucky.
All the signs were there. Everything was looking good. There was no way Get Lucky could be the best song on there either or even if the other tracks were as refreshing and new as that we’d be happy. We knew they’d ditched the electronic stuff mostly but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a dance record. Look at Kool and the Gang! And Chic! There was a palpable notion dance music could be about to take a turn away from laptops and return to be revived with real life and real music in real studios…
I’m desperate to love this record but it isn’t going to happen. By the same margin it isn’t awful. It sets out with the kind of immediate presence and announced arrival you would like before breaking down to a ‘we’re gonna hold back for a bit’ lower key track than an explosive all stops pulled. Singing about bringing life back to music they are referring to the now-soulless word of EDM. It is a good opener you enjoy knowing it is the appetiser for the next hour of your life you have donated to the robots.
What happened though is they take it down to a mellow filler track. The type usually reserved for track 8 or 9 of a 10 or 11 track album. The kind of track that makes up the time. It’s a pleasant mellow ballad track during which you are thinking, this is nice but where is this going? Next up is the much better Giorgio by Moroder. Sure to be a cult hit it starts with an insightful interview with the man himself before an 80’s synth master-class is unleashed. Sounding at times like a cheap synth album it steers just shy by executing a marvellous breakdown, with guitars and building pressure towards the end. At the very end is when your pulse starts racing as you realise this is the warm up. The previous two tracks were scene setting for the dance, soul, funk, groove experience you come to expect from Daft Punk - particularly with Nile Rogers about. Your pulse begins to race in time with the Moog click as it comes down the pitch spectrum and seem to start a bass beat you think will lead into an electronic banger… nope.
Instead we are treated to a great track made unwelcome by that anticipation. Within is a beautiful song but like The Game of Love in track two it is misplaced and causes yet another false start. At this point I’m beginning to lose faith anything of any substance will materialise. As much as it is a favourite track, it is still not what I’m wanting, nay demanding.
Instant Crush indicates the beginning of a crescendo (especially as you see Get Lucky fast approaching in the set list). Julian Casablancas guests and it is a great track. In fact it was trending worldwide shortly after the unveiling of the stream. This is what we came here for. This is Daft Punk. It is followed by the equally superb Lose Yourself to Dance where Pharrell Williams makes his entrance. A superb pair of tracks and worth buying the album for alone along with the Get Lucky album version which has additional funk and sounds more complete that the single. Though sadly Get Lucky is separated from its guest partner track by Paul Williams on Touch. Touch is an odd and mixed track but not without identity. It is probably the slow burning favourite that people haven’t noticed yet. It undulates from crooning to the 70’s styling’s seen throughout the album to a more ballad feel. A little unbalanced but plenty to be liked.
The transition from Touch to Get Lucky is well executed in feel as it feels as though it picks you up out of a plush bed to get on the dance floor and warm up. At this point we’re thinking ‘slow burn, third time lucky?’ As previously mentioned the album version is more complete in every way. It really is a masterpiece and deserves its mantle as song of the summer.
Beyond follows and we are back to Sunset Boulevard cocktail ballads. Motherboard feels like a trip across their motherboard that you yet again could lead into a crescendo of old school Daft Punk. Nope, we end up back at a collaboration track Fragments of Time, which is another one due to be lost in the frustration but stand alone is a little too country and western but a good track with some interesting ideas across it. Followed by the fantastic Doin’ it Right feat Animal Collective’s Panda Bear. Final track Closer gives us the EDM dose we’ve waited for but it’s too little too late.
So to sum up it is very much 50 50 and could yet be a grower. Either way it is unbalanced and ill judged. I wonder if a rejig of the track order and a little track crossover may have dealt a few more aces. There is a MASSIVE HUGE GIGANTIC ‘BUT’ though. It is this. Daft Punk have said they will be remixing their own tracks. They have also said they won’t be touring this album. This is awesome news all round. No-one wants to try and dance to crooning but if you deconstruct Daft Punk’s masterpiece Discovery it is all samples. Every track on there is lifted from something in the 70’s and 80’s. I have a hunch (and I really desperately hope I am right) that the pay-off for the perpetual false start frustration throughout the record is that this project is bigger than we know yet. I reckon they are working on remixing and sampling their own tracks into more what we expect. I’m not going to assume an album or even EP but I do think the remixes may just be the pay off.
A further point to make in their defence is that they are nothing short of revolutionary, ground-breaking and original in everything they do. Even the Tron soundtrack was like nothing heard before. The mission statement here was clearly to ditch the tech and make a feel good album. Mission accomplished. Yes, it wasn’t what you expected. Yes it isn’t what the band name suggests but it is original and actually regardless of the nay-sayers the quality of the music is exceptional. Truly. It is a magnificent sunset strip, Miami vice soundtrack designed for cocktails and linen suits. It’s the type of album that would make even a glimmer of sunshine on Morecombe beach feel like a blaze in the Caribbean drinking rum. It is the ultimate pool party jukebox. The issue here is not the music but expectation management. We were promised a Daft Punk album and we didn’t get one. It doesn’t mean that what we got is bad. We can just hope patience is a virtue worth having as we await the Daft Punk remixes. In the meantime there is plenty to enjoy but maybe rearrange the tracks to make for a more comfortable ride.
Emeli Sande - Crazy In Love
It may be Emeli Sande a-fucking-gain but this further reinforces that the soundtrack to this film is going to be incredible. It might even make me go and see it.
Guitar? too easy! UKELELE!
Nero - Into The Past
Beautiful new track from Nero for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby soundtrack
This is exactly why I am thinking of relaunching sub4love on it’s own account - now in the right place!
Frank Turner Live at The Forum, Kentish Town
HD this and turn the volume up to concert levels and come along for the ride with everyone who was there. (I’m somewhere at the back dancing and providing backing vocals) - Max
Chase and Status - Lost and Not Found (2013)
New from the kings of commercial yet respectable drum and bass. Dark and beautiful and a fantastic tease for the new album to be announced later in the year.
Source: SoundCloud / Chase & Status
Daughter - Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover, BBCR1 Live Lounge)
A beautiful cover with a completely different feel and take on it. Still boosting the excitement for 20th May.
Frank Turner @ The Forum, 25/4/2013
It is impossible to go to a Frank Turner show and get through without breaking a sweat, your voice and any negative vibes you may have. Supported by Larry and his Flask, an American punk collective with a cello, the crowd was already in a frenzy half an hour before the man of the hour made his way to the stage. A sing-a-long to Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark a fitting moment before the start of the show as the Sleeping Souls morph into Frank’s very own E Street Band to his Bruce.
Opening with Four Simple Words everyone was indeed dancing, shouting and immediately in the spirit of the evening. The night of show 1379 progressed through mass sing-a-longs, friendly banter and a healthy dose of honest emotion. I don’t think anyone would leave disappointed by the absence of a record as he deftly mixed the new with the old. the crowd sang loudly to both alike regardless of their hidden opinion.
By the end of the main set, anyone leaving before encore will have left with their £25 worth. But then the encore tonight was not to be missed. The #FTHCflag had made it’s way to London via each of his gigs. Matt Nasir and Nigel Powell draped it over him in a James Brown style while he explained that it was designed to create a sense of community for the tour and prove the cynics wrong - despite on day one of the tour he being the biggest cynic himself. This led into what I believe was the first performance of The Ballad of Me and My Friends in a year. This was followed by tributes to his family and friends who were all present. What happened next had an ‘end of a chapter’ feel. He mentioned the album battle he was in with Will-i-am and Michael Buble (where he came second to Buble in the end) and paid tribute to everyone who got him there. It felt like the end of a chapter as, although he didn’t want to say it, he sort of knows he could soon be staring down the barrel of a an arena tour. I Knew Prufock followed in another rare outing and then Try this at Home and I Still Believe came quickly and uplifting to end proceedings.
Having seen him in the Newcastle Union Basement, at Reading Festival in the NME tent, at Wembley Arena and a few other times, I can say with relative authority he has the capacity to make any size venue feel like the local pub and make each and every audience member feel like a friend. If the arenas are indeed beckoning for more regular appearances then I could not think of a man who has earned it more and more fitting to take on that scale as the skill to not alienate the audience is a rarely employed art-form.
Then again he may do a Jimmy Carr and keep playing the small venues as he loves the performance and proximity offered by smaller shows and indeed his track record shows he is not scared of the work!
Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart
Anticipation and apprehension was high for this record in Sub4Love headquarters. Fans of FTHC may notice that we are indeed named after one of his songs so what better way to properly relaunch than with an album review, gig review, and other assorted Frank based paraphernalia.
Four Simple Words was debuted at Wembley Arena last year, since then few songs have seen the light until the release of Recovery a few months ago to mark the beginning of the ramp up towards the new album Tape Deck Heart.
There are only a couple of wholly unremarkable tracks - most have more than a redeeming feature about them. Recovery is a fantastic romp, Losing Days is as uplifting as the best of Love Ire and Song, The Way I Tend to Be, a touching straightforward but engaging ballad akin to a musical happy hug, Plain Sailing Weather shows Frank’s harder edge but still maintains the break-up record theme. For me Four Simple Words, Polaroid Picture and the second half of Broken Piano are other major highlights. The vocal on the first half of the latter track is one of the most strained, forced and painful things I’ve heard on one of Frank’s record but then it is matched with a piece of vocal melody genius - frustrating!
The biggest sin on this record however is the fact the We Shall Not Overcome is a b-side and on the bonus disc. If you are considering getting this album, do not scrimp on the bonus tracks, between this, Time Machine and Cowboy Chords you get your £2/£3 worth.
The point not to be missed on this record however is that it show’s clear intentions of grander ambition. This record could be the start of Frank Turner becoming the true British nay English Bruce Springsteen. The larger-venue-sound is breaking through, the soul, heart and fun is retained, the Sleeping Souls are as good an E Street as he requires. Don’t believe me? See We Shall Not Overcome for the proof (and hence why it should have been the top of side 2 of the record before Four Simple Words) I’m excited to see what the next few records bring. He is yet to have his ‘Born to Run’ moment but I can easily see it happening. Either that or this glimmer of greatness will fizzle and he will continue to reinforce his growing cult fan base. Either is fine by me.