A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Random Access Memories is the fourth full-length studio album by French electronic duo Daft Punk. Daft Punk brought in live guest musicians for the recording, and the album has a polished, meandering sound, with themes that extol the human experience and pay tribute to the past. There are a few mild references to drinking and partying in the Pharrell collaboration "Get Lucky," which also has lyrics about staying "up all night to get lucky" that could be interpreted as having a sexual connotation, but that's the only iffy content. Although Random Access Memories is tame enough for tweens, it'll be most appreciated by listeners mature (and patient) enough to spend time with its layered nuances and messages.
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What's the story?
RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES is Daft Punk's much-anticipated fourth studio album, their first since 2010's Tron: Legacy soundtrack. The French duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo opted for the first time to use live session musicians for this recording, rather than relying heavily on samples, collaborating with guest artists Pharrell ("Get Lucky," "Lose Yourself to Dance") Interpol's Julian Casablances ("Instant Crush"), Chic's Nile Rodgers, house DJ Todd Edwards, MC/producer Chilly Gonzales, and Panda Bear of Animal Collective. A concept album about memory with a nod to the technological rendering of human experience, Random Access Memories borrows from a bounty of influences, including disco, jazz, prog-rock, soft-rock, funk, soul, and psychedelica. Each painstakingly crafted track is a story in itself, but Random Access Memories is best interpreted in its entirety as Daft Punk's testament to the "parallel between the brain and the hard drive -- the random way that memories are stored," as stated by Bangalter.
Is it any good?
Fans looking for the hard-hitting electronic dance music Daft Punk helped to pioneer in the '90s may be caught off-guard by this richly detailed, cerebral concept album rife with elements of disco, prog-rock, soul, and psychedelica. The extraordinarily high production value acknowledges deep and assorted musical influences, and reverence to technology and human creation is threaded through every track.
Repeat listens are rewarded, as new elements continue to surface. "Touch," for instance, borrows from so many genres and influences that it could be dissected for days, and the arrangements across the board are brilliant and pristinely layered. Though they've built a reputation on detached, robotic theatrics, Daft Punk captures a very human reality here, a reality that aligns with technology more than ever before. This sleek and complex album will likely resonate as a musical landmark for years to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Random Access Memories a "concept album." What are some of the ideas and themes found in this record?
What differentiates Daft Punk from other electronic acts today? How have they built and sustained a worldwide reputation despite having only released four full-length albums in 20 years?
Pick a favorite song or two on the album. What are some of the genres and influences at play? What instruments do you hear?