It hadn’t occurred to me that other people don’t care. I’d not given a single thought to the fact that, outside the circular wall of my robot-addled brain, additional human beings inhabiting this planet may not give two (or even three) hoots about an impending album release.
If you’ve spent any longer than one minute in my company over the last few weeks, I’ve probably asked you if you’re as excited about Daft Punk’s forthcoming LP, Random Access Memories, as I am. The answer, without fail, has always been brick wall specific.
“No,” you said.
With some people, I left it there. These are, after all, friendships and relations I’ve built and maintained for many years, and I wouldn’t want two French robots to spoil them. That would be a shame. And an incredibly odd way for things to end.
Then there’s my mum. As we all know, mums know everything. For a very long time, we pretend not to believe this is the case, but, as soon as school becomes a distant memory and we’re thrust into the world of work, mortgages and the requirement to deal with other human beings on stuff which doesn’t involve reenacting yesterday’s Street Fighter battle or comparing Panini stickers, we come to the distinct conclusion that everything mum says is, in fact, 100% correct.
Mums also humour their children indefinitely and it was with that in mind that I recently raised the question of whether or not she’d heard Get Lucky, the first single from the album. She had, and confirmed that it was good, if a little repetitive. This was going well. Much better, in fact, than my previous attempts to make people like Daft Punk. So, I continued. If mum liked it, maybe all hope was not lost elsewhere.
A brief, but exciting (for me, anyway), recount of some of their earlier stuff followed. Less impressed, but – as mums always do – putting boredom to one side for the sake of her child, she continued to listen intently.
I showed her the Saturday Night Live advert with Nile Rogers jamming away on a glittery stage filled by shiny instruments, a shiny Pharrell Williams and two men dressed as, yes, shiny robots. It is at times like this that, for even the most ardent Daft Punk fan, the pretentiousness of it all briefly catches breath before being stuffed firmly back into the sea of suspended belief. It all looks a bit silly. For a moment. Mum seemed unperturbed, though, so I carried on.
I then went one further and showed my mother the grainy iPhone footage from the Coachella festival, where a short clip of Get Lucky was played on big screens to the thousands in attendance, somehow managing to upstage the real acts who had bothered to make a physical appearance. This is where it got tricky, because it is almost impossible to explain why this is so ultimately cool without, once again, exposing Daft Punk’s entire viral marketing campaign for the inherent silliness such an elaborate pre-album promotional monolith launch elicits. I think I failed here, not least because my wife entered the room at the exact same time and rescued my mum with a conversation about how much of a dork I am.
Putting that brief experiment to one side, I have now heard Random Access Memories and I really am blown away. Putting all the hyperbole and silly suits to one side, it is an achievement of simply unfathomable standards for two bedroom producers who have previously been far more at home sampling others (and they are the best in the game at doing that). It is also a record which will take time to settle in your mind. You may not develop a glowing opinion of it instantly; it is not made for instant gratification. And in this world of instant everything, bland R&B, pop and dance music and a requirement for all lead vocalists to have an irritating affectation in their voice, that’s a very good thing indeed.
Thrilling, surprising and fitting everything I love about music and production into one album, RAM is an instant masterpiece. Listening to it is like floating in a space station filled with Moogs, live drums, top session players and echos of Chic, David Bowie and Pink Floyd ringing with tape-saturated warmth in your ears. It is also a perfect reason to dust off your turntable and get the vinyl ordered; if there was ever a modern album which demanded that type of playback, this is it.