>Requested Review: "Discovery" by Daft Punk

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i could have just put up the american cover art here but how boring would THAT be

So tonight I will be reviewing Daft Punk’s 2001 record Discovery, as requested by blog/twitter/comicfriend Stephanie O’Donnell. It is a funny thing that has happened, with this record here; I first listened to it over a month ago, right after I finally managed to purge Chocolate Starfish from my system. And not only did I enjoy it, I listened to it a good four or five times within the span of a few days, feeling pretty prepared to write a nice review while my Daft Punk buzz was still lingering.

But THEN I spent a month and a half doing absolutely nothing! Life. So it is.

Either way, I am happy to be reviewing Discovery. Despite the fact that this is the first time I have actually sat down and listened to a Daft Punk album all the way through, my love of the classic “One More Time” runs so deep that I almost feel like I have been a fan of the band for years. Forgive me for turning into a hyperbolic critic for a second, but it is such a perfect end-of-the-millennium pre-9/11 party jam that it is impossible for me not to consider it a classic. Like Andrew W.K.’s similar classic “Party Hard” from the same year, it revels in the sheer power of insistent, sloganeering repetition: “ONE MORE TIME!” “WE’RE GONNA CELEBRATE!” “CELEBRATE AND DANCE SO FREE!” “…ONE MORE TIME!!” And of course, filtered through Romanthony’s heavily-filtered vocals, you just have to listen. It is one of those songs that just sounds like such a good time, it is impossible not to have a good time yourself the moment you hear it.

It doesn’t hurt that “One More Time” came out back when I was in 8th grade, one of my more enjoyable years attending public school. I will not bother you with my memories of the song, because they aren’t particularly exciting. But I will say that, thanks to “One More Time,” my memories of that time seem a lot more colorful and intoxicating than I imagine they actually were.

I will say that Discovery is, like “One More Time,” an album that evokes constant party-times and does not let up throughout its hour-or-so running time. Even when “One More Time” and “Aerodynamic” end with ominous church bells, or the synth keyboards of “Nightvision” briefly bring the album into a chilled-out groove, Discovery has an unstoppable energy. In fact, the album’s first four tracks are so powerful that it is almost impossible for the rest of the record to follow them up: besides the aforementioned opener “One More Time,” we have the twisted instrumental “Aerodynamic” (with a processed guitar solo in the middle that I am pretty much in love with), followed by what might be my favorite track on the record next to “One More Time” – “Digital Love.” Unlike most of Discovery‘s other tracks, “Digital Love” relies more on a poppy (and, obviously, vocodered) vocal melody than a repetitious techno-dance groove, and is all the better for it. I mean, it’s just so catchy! And adorable! And there are synth-horns that come out of nowhere. I have no idea who sings it, but man. It is an intoxicating and lovely track.

This four-track opening blitz ends with “Harder Better Faster Stronger” which I don’t need to say a word about. You know it, you idiot. Let’s not play these games!! It was in that Kanye song and that Youtube clip of that guy with the fingers. Of course you know it. Now, I am not going to sit here and tell you that Discovery gets worse all of the sudden after “Stronger” is over – that would not be right of me, to say such things. Because who can knock the insane blip-bloopy rush of “Crescendolls”? Or the funky, laid-back groove of “Something About Us”? Or the insistent dance-floor dramatics of “Superheroes? or “High Life”? Nobody can, that is who. Especially not somebody like me!

At the same time, I feel that Discovery‘s techno-dance-grooves become less and less distinctive as the record wears on. That is just how it is for me. I don’t always make it to the ten-minute closer “Too Long,” that is all I am saying. Some of the last few tracks on here seem to repeat a pleasant little keyboard hook, throw some phatt-ass beats under it, and repeat them over and over adding a little bit more to the mix each time. It is entertaining background dance-floor music to be sure, but it does not hold my attention for too long. I am only saying this because, well, the first half or so of Discovery is just so good and distinctive – “One More Time” and “Digital Love” being the chief examples here – that the record’s second half feels a little more disposable. (And I feel like Daft Punk knew they were front-loading the album – the first four tracks I mentioned above were all released as singles.)

But perhaps I am being finicky. I have listened through Discovery in its entirety several times and have enjoyed it. I admit that I know little to nothing about Daft Punk – I have never heard ’97’s Homework or ’05’s Human After All – so it is impossible for me to judge this record in the context of their career. The albums that bookend this one could sound completely different, or could be more of the same. I don’t know, man!! What I do know about Discovery is that it is a perfectly pleasant and often exhilirating techno-pop album, one of those unique records that is easily accessible to a mainstream pop audience but also contains a sense of depth and ingenious studio finesse that you many not always find in a pop record.

I guess the bottom line is, it is a fun album and I like it a whole bunch.

There! That wasn’t so hard.

How many Daft Punk fans have I upset with this review? Several, I bet. I feel like there is a lot more I could say about Discovery, especially after all this time and all these playthroughs, but oh well. This is how I always feel, after these reviews. It never gets any easier.

Either way, I feel that I am once again energized to get some reviews done. The next one – the next one’s gonna be a good one, folks. I can feel it. It’s one I’ve been waiting to do for a good long time. Be prepared!!

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