Random Access Memories is an album I wish I could say was perfect, but I suppose enough other people said that. But it’s just really very close to perfect, kind of heart-breakingly close. It’s just got this amazing retro-seventies vibe, coupled with Daft Punk’s typically robotic (but not soulless) style of electronica. And really the first half of the album, the first six tracks . . . well, that is one of the best album halves ever. The urgent, pumping disco of Give Life Back to Music, the vocoder drenched dirge The Game of Love, the poppy Instant Crush featuring wonderful vocals and guitar by Julian Casablancas, the party anthem Lose Yourself to Dance, but best of all is the almost ten minute Giorgio by Moroder in which snippets from an interview with pioneering producer Giorgio Moroder gets set to an absolutely masterful musical backing. But then the album hits a dead spot with the eight minute long epic Touch which is just painfully bad; poor vocals by Paul Williams, overwrought and sentimental and cheesy in all the ways that Daft Punk usually isn’t. it might kill the album entirely if it weren’t followed by instant classic Get Lucky with Pharrell. As it is, it kind of divides the album into neat halves; everything before it is great, while everything after it is fair to middling with only Get Lucky really succeeding on the level it wants to. Fragments of Time is fine, due to a nice, warm vocal from Todd Edwards and Motherboard is an okay instrumental. Doin’ It Right is fun, if ultimately overlong. But the album has the misfortune to end on the second worst track, the wanna-be epic Contact. It’s obviously striving for a plane of absolute musical transcendence as the instrumental builds and builds and builds into avalanches of synths and massive washes of sound, but at over six minutes, it’s too long and has no real sense of energy. So, this album is definitely inconsistent. At seventy-five minutes, some cuts could have been made to tighten things up in my opinion. A tight sixty minutes even would have been fine. But it is what it is and it’s still a really good album that I can recommend, with all its flaws, because the things it gets right are so absolutely perfect. Too bad though; it’s clear DP wanted this one to be a classic for the ages . . . and they were frustratingly close. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – acclaimed album is frustratingly inconsistent in its draggy second half, but the brilliant moments, of which there are certainly many, help to compensate for the lesser moments. 3 ½ stars.