Inane Thoughts: Diary of a Frustrated Writer

So, another week off from blogging (possibly more than a week, I can’t really be bothered to check). I’m sure you’ve all been on the edge of your seats in anticipation of my re-visitation of Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’. I have finally found my copy of the album. Some of you have suggested I could just illegally download the album, as I had already bought it and therefore was justified in downloading it now. This is exactly the sort of thinking that Lars Ulrich was trying to stamp out. Don’t you realise that there are enigmatic robot-head-wearing Gallic music stars out there literally slightly peckish because you haven’t bought a second copy of their album? You bastards. Anyway, here is my re-review.

I have a theory. I don’t think that Daft Punk wear those robot heads to disguise their true identities; I think they wear them because their faces are hideously disfigured from a lifetime of eyebrow-raising and winking. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Homework is a brilliant album and I think Daft Punk have been behind some of the best pop music in the last two decades. Around The World, Robot Rock, Harder Better Faster Stronger – these guys have influenced artists like Kanye West, N.E.R.D., The Strokes, Klaxons, Timbaland, Madonna (then again, who hasn’t “influenced” Madonna), LCD Soundsystem and Flight of the Conchords. That does not detract from the suspicion that their music is sometimes suffocating by irony and a sense that you are being had. Daft Punk were making dance music as (pop) art.

Discovery ditched the rock-influenced Chicago/Acid house style of Homework, in favour of a sound influenced as much by Supertramp and Barry Manilow than by 808 State or Felix Da Housecat. Prog-disco was just about every music critic’s worst nightmare, but I remember absolutely loving this album when it came out – and I promise I wasn’t dosed up on ketamine – however, listening back it seems that I had only really remembered tracks like the ubiquitous ‘One More Time’ (a poorer version of Daft Punk’s Thomas Balgalter’s absolutely belting lascivious and shimmering euro-disco track ‘Music Sounds Better With You’), the pulsating ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ and the snapping beats & widdling guitar soloing of ‘Aerodynamic’. However, with a decade of rip-offs and sound-a-likes, the album no longer sounds quite so fresh and interesting as it did at the time.

Whilst at the time it was easy to admire and chuckle-knowingly at the chutzpah of adopting the much-maligned soft-rock sound for tracks like ‘Digital Love’ and ‘Something About Us’, ten years and a whole lot of wankers-wearing-ironic-t-shirts later, it’s much harder to love. The irony at times can be suffocating; like having Mr Say-No-More from Monty Python wink and nudge you for 80-odd minutes. Sure, they were trailblazers in pulling down the curtain of people’s love for 10cc, Fleetwood Mac and Hue & Cry, but now that we have Guilty Pleasures nights, a lot of the album now sounds almost quaint. Tracks that were superficially dated at the time such as ‘High Life’, ‘Voyager’ and ‘Veridis Quo’ now sound dated twice-over. The final track ‘Too Long’ felt at the time like a knowing joke too far and it’s pretty much unbearable now. 

However, amongst the flotsam toward the end of the album, the penultimate track ‘Face To Face’ is an absolute belter of twisted garage and scratched up samples. And there’s the rub with Daft Punk; amongst all the winking and the nodding, they produce moments of pop-art brilliance and you forgive them all their missteps. Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons were never this much fun.

Next up, I’ll be sticking with the Gallic-prog theme and taking a look at Air’s ’10,000Hz Legend’. I might even listen to it as well.

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