I will state right off the bat that I’m not an expert when it comes to electronic music. In fact, I know very little about it. I pretty much know what I hear Thom Yorke talk about in interviews. There are a few electronic bands that I’ve enjoyed over the years. Chemical Brothers are one. I remember owning a Crystal Method album, too. MSTRKRFT? Pretty cool stuff. Are Air considered an electronic band? Probably not. Boards of Canada? I LOVE Boards of Canada. Daft Punk, now there’s a band that I’ve admired from afar for years. Thanks to Spike Jonze and his video for “Da Funk” Daft Punk have stayed in my peripherals for years. Daft Punk make electronic music that has a wide enough reach to allow music fans of all ilk to step inside their world and find something to their liking. I personally listen to Discovery and Homework quite regularly when I’m running. It’s great cardio music. I often imagine some strange scenarios as I’m on the treadmill or running in the neighborhood. They almost always involve androids, futuristic battles involving robot combat, narrow escapes from large explosions, and dilapidated cities much like the one seen in Blade Runner. It’s music you can get lost in and it fuels that drive to sweat profusely.
I’d heard about this new album of theirs a while back and didn’t think much of it. Then I heard “Get Lucky” and was intrigued. Using real musicians to create an organic electronic album, reaching into the past to make a record that would’ve been playing in discos in 1976. I’m all about organic and real musicians. So I finally heard this massive record in the making. What did I think? Hmm. I’ll start with the highlights. “Giorgio by Moroder” is a very cool track with Giorgio Moroder narrating his story of how he got into the music business. There’s something very surreal about it, mainly because I thought Giorgio Moroder was Italian, yet he sounds like Werner Herzog. The music almost gets proggy toward the end with a Saga-like guitar solo. “Instant Crush” has Julian Casablancas singing like a lovelorn android over an “Eye In The Sky”-ish groove. It’s probably the best thing Casablancas has done since his 2009 solo record. “Get Lucky” is Pharrell Williams getting his ‘come on’ on. One of the tightest rhythm sections I’ve heard in a long time. Great stuff. “Motherboard” is cool and slithery. Proof that you don’t need computers to make slick instrumental music. The highlight for me is definitely “Doin’ it Right” featuring Panda Bear. This is not only my favorite track, but also the best collaboration on this album filled with many collaborations. I’d love to hear a whole album filled with Daft Punk and Panda Bear songs. Last track “Contact” ends the album on an old school note.
So, seems like there’s a lot to like about this album, right? Well, there’s six songs I really liked. Six out of a 13 song album. I guess that’s alright. I think if you’d remove that Paul Williams song some of the better moments of the other tracks might shine a little brighter for me, but Paul Williams? Really? I hear him sing and I’m instantly transported back to some random Sunday night in 1977 and on the Zenith console is some crappy variety show. To me, it’s pure cheese. The spray can kind, not feta or goat cheese. C’mon, it’s the guy that wrote The Love Boat theme song! Some may hear his collaboration “Touch” and love it. But me? It’s just brings up memories of lousy TV and even lousier music. “Fragments Of Time” with Todd Edwards is another I can do without. It’s terrible Paul McCartney and Wings trying to do disco. It’s Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy” mating with a muzak machine giving birth to the world’s lamest Moog. “Beyond” is so-so. It’s like Kavinsky being bored in the studio so he thought he’d take a shot at a Daft Punk cover. “Give Life Back to Music” is a decent enough way to open the record, but if you ask me “Contact” would’ve been a better choice.
Okay, so there you have it. My half-assed assessment of what’s to be one of this years most talked about albums. I’m sure I’ll be in the minortiy in my overall dislike of this record. It could be that I just don’t “get it”. That very well could be. But if I have to get Paul Williams, cheesy disco, and 70s department store music in order to dig this album then I’ll just remain uninformed, thank you very much.
5.6 out of 10