In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine this week, Daft Punk claimed that electronic music had failed to move an inch from its comfort zone, questioned the recent tendency for artists to record material in airports and hotel rooms, and argued that the whole scene was in the midst of an identity crisis.
Bold words indeed; but unlike many of the motormouth superstar DJs that have emerged during their absence, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s views don’t appear to be an attention-grabbing promotional stunt, but a genuine concern for the way in which their beloved genre is heading.
Of course, considering the eight-year gap since their last studio effort, the inconsistent Human After All, and the near fever pitch excitement that greeted the announcement of their long-awaited follow-up, many artists would have refrained from piling on even more pressure for their comeback. But although we’ve only heard 60 seconds from their upcoming fourth LP, Random Access Memories, the perfect execution of its promotional campaign suggests Daft Punk are about to give commercial dance music the kick up the backside it needs.
Teased unexpectedly during a commercial break for Saturday Night Live, first single, “Get Lucky” may sound exactly what you’d expect a collaboration with Chic legend Nile Rodgers and R&B maestro Pharrell Williams to sound like. But the former’s exquisite disco licks and the latter’s glorious falsetto, not to mention the brilliantly glitzy space-age promo, is the kind of effortlessly cool, funky and summery affair which proves that the NERD frontman‘s ‘4D in your mind’ claims weren’t just hollow talk.
However, making an equally surprise appearance on the massive jumbotrons just before Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set at Coachella, the Random Access Memories trailer also appeared to confirm that this is a Daft Punk album like no other. Featuring artists as eclectic as The Strokes’ lead vocalist Julian Casablancas, Academy Award-winning composer Paul Williams and electro pioneer Giorgio Moroder, the official guest list reads like an arbitrary but utterly intriguing who’s-who of popular music.
While the news that Daft Punk have limited their fondness for drum machines to just two tracks, and that only one sample (an as-yet unnamed Aussie rock song) appears on the whole record, confirms that their new sequinned image isn’t the only major change in the Daft Punk camp. Let’s just hope for dance music’s sake that they can live up to the hype.