Daft Punk have been a Jekyll-and-Hyde proposition throughout a career of flitting between electro house and rough-round-the-edges synth-rock. For every Da Funk to soundtrack your swagger, there’s an Around The World to numb you with repetitive banality.
They may have inspired a legion of bedroom producers but, on Random Access Memories, the French duo’s focus is on performers. Apart from Contact, which borrows from an Apollo 17 broadcast, samples are kept to a minimum, and free space filled by funk-drenched songs and guest appearances; a crooning Pharrell Williams pitches up on Get Lucky, to which disco-funk guitar licks are supplied by Nile Rogers.
The star turns don’t stop there. Julian Casablancas adds trademark treated vocals to the forlorn Instant Crush, and Hansjörg ‘Giorgio’ Moroder is roped in to add a monologue – though not much dancefloor appeal – to the kooky synths of Giorgio Of Moroder. Elsewhere, the Delia Derbyshire-worthy space-electro of Motherboard outshines the unfortunate Touch, which sounds like a refugee from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
Ultimately, you don’t quite get the sky-scraping, genre-blending bangers mustered in the past, nor the negative synergy and diminishing returns of many collaboration-heavy, late-career albums. Call it a mixed bag – or business as usual.