Daft Punk, can they still be good after two decades?

In less than seven days, the world will finally feast their ears upon Daft Punks highly anticipated album, Random Access Memories. What’s on all of our minds is whether the duo who have been creating dance music for two decades now, can live up to expectations and the hype they have created surrounding the album.

With one of the best advertising campaigns seen in music history, where the marketing is a continuity of the albums creative process. They lightly tease their songs almost to the point of tedium which resulted in their first number one hit ever with ‘Get Lucky’ and smashing Spotify (the music streaming service) records, you can’t deny that they’ve built this album up to be like the second coming of Jesus.

The duo haven’t had a proper studio release since their 2005, ‘Human After All’ and have done only a handful of interviews and three tours in the two decades that they have been playing. Can they really still be good after 20 years? Guns N’ Roses, who left many years between their 1993 album, ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ and their 2008 sordid disappointment, ‘Chinese Democracy’ found that it’s not so easy to keep up the reputation they have built over the years.

And even when Daft Punk released Human After All in 2005, it fell short of expectations and it just didn’t emitt the same emotion that both ‘Homework’ and ‘Discovery’ did. As writer,Mark Pytlik put it, “What’s more rock’n’roll than hitting the self-destruct button?” The album was a “droopy flower.” columnest, Winston Rowntree wrote in his article ‘6 Reasons Good Bands Start to Suck: An Illustrated Guide’, “Well, it’s inevitably happened — you excitedly play the long-awaited new album by your favorite band and are horrified to find that …They suck now.” And the reality is that this has happened all too often, for me it happened with early teen bands I listened to such as Blink 182, Sum 41 and even Enter Shikari, all whom have released a studio album recently which did, indeed, suck. However, let’s be honest, the same can’t happen to Daft Punk and here’s why…They understand that there is an expectation to suck, most musicians who try to make music again after a few years doing other stuff don’t expect to be bad, whereas in an interview with GQ, Daft Punk openly admitted that that’s what they whole heartedly expect, they said: “In Scream 2, they have this discussion about how sequels always suck…the thing we can ask ourselves at some point is like: We’re making music for twenty years. How many bands and acts do you have that are still making good music after twenty years? It always sucks—almost always, you know…So our new album is supposed to really suck.”

They are not blindly trying to appeal to the modern audience, they understand that modern music is stuck in a rut, in the same interview with GQ they said: “It’s always this thing where we’re constantly waiting for something that will come in electronic music that says, Daft Punk sucks…that’s actually much more interesting and exciting than someone who is paying homage.”

But the issue they’ve found is that Electronic Dance Music is simply refusing to evolve and that’s exactly why their new album, instead of sticking to a trend that’s already in place, is actually going back to a bygone era, as musician Panda Bear said in the online series The Collaborators, they were looking to create a 70’s and 80’s West Coast vibe and looked to bands like Fleetwood Mac for inspiration.

In an interview with Spin, Thomas Bangalter said: “Our single ‘Around the World’ was inspired by the music of Chic, and our first idea for this record was to make the same kind of music, but to replace the drum machine with a live drummer. Then we also wanted to replace the synthesizers with real people. We’ve been making music now for 20 years, but still after each record we don’t know how we are going to continue.” 

They want to do something new using something real, they’re making music for the sake of making music, they aren’t trying to appease an audience or fans, in the same interview Bangalter said: “We don’t try to generate a consensus and we respect it if people feel annoyed. But we think that movies and TV series shouldn’t have a monopoly of trying to make an event of a new release. This is about a celebration of music in the mainstream culture.”

As you’ll feel right away if you’ve heard their track ‘Get Lucky’ with Pharrell or and other snippets from other tracks, is that they’re brought some soul, some feeling to Electronic Dance Music that had been lost. Instead of using carbon copies of samples and making tracks solely on a computer, they use real instruments, collaborators who know the ins and outs of music and it creates music that transcends above most of the dance music that exists today.

Writer for the Guardian, Michael Cragg put it like so, “Get Lucky eschews the crunching electronics of their last album and the vocoder-lead future-disco of Discovery in favour of lithe ‘funk grooves’ (apologies) that seem to have been transported directly from an underlit 70s dancefloor.”

And most importantly, they’ve got personality, a mystique that lures you in. “The Robots” they’re called, they are like the fictional characters created for their animated feature Interstella 555 that went alongside their album ‘Discovery’. They are aliens put on earth to make music, good music. The robotic helmets are there for a reason, they create a persona, a cult of personality surrounded around their music, when we listen to them we are not listening to Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, it’s Daft Punk and no matter how long they have been around, the irony is that their false identity gives their music identity and feeling that will never get old.

I recommend you pick up their album Random Access Memories, in stores 20th May (UK).

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