Legendary french music duo Daft Punk, released their sophomore album Discovery in the year 2001. Their first album Homework, had already established the duo as a force to be reckoned with in the electronic/house genres of music. The album consisted of memorable singles like “Da Funk” and “Around the World.” While these singles were fairly popular, especially in Europe, the singles from Discovery blasted Daft Punk into the mainstream.
Singles off the album like “One More Time,” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” and “Digital Love,” showcased the duos talent for not only quality production, but for catchy songwriting with great versatility. Their trademark robotic style seems like it would be more of a gimmick and would get stale quickly, but each track has a different take on the style and delivers a great deal of personality. No two tracks on the album sound alike at all.
At the time of its release, Discovery was bashed by music critics. Most of the criticism derived from the album having a repetitive sound that fails to challenge the listener. While the average listener may indeed find some of the tracks repetitive, the duo has a unique quality that makes their melodies very catchy and almost hypnotic. The track “crescendolls” is a track that features a 10 second loop that acts as the bones for the track. While the beat is simple, Daft Punk does a lot to keep the track interesting. The groovy bass line carries over nicely and the breakdown in the middle is reminiscent of their DJ inspired cuts on Homework. It flows very nicely. Another track that is similar in form is the glamorous “High Life.” The track is a simple melody strung together from sample from the classic Tavares track “Break Down for Love.” Again, the melody is simple in nature, but Daft Punk layers the track with plenty of switch-ups that keep the track evolving and make for an awesome sound.
While Homework showcased the talent the duo had for making great melodies from sampling other musicians, Discovery introduced listeners to the more thematic side of Daft Punk. The duo noticeably put a lot more effort into the songwriting this time around, giving the tracks more personality to them. Songs like “Digital Love” and “Something About Us” deliver surprisingly touching, heartwarming, and sad lyrics to album. “Something About Us” in particular is a heart-wrenching track about a dying love – or perhaps a love that never was. The lyrics are incredibly stripped down, but with the superb delivery and instrumentation, the track encompasses the sadness of heartbreak. On the other side of the coin, songs like “One More Time” deliver some fun, vibrant lyrics that can make anyone feel like dancing.
A great deal of the track list comprises of instrumental melodies as well, none of which are to be scoffed at. The second cut of the album, “Aerodynamic” constructs a fantastic pair of melodies that merge in the third leg of the track in an outstanding fashion. With the instrumental tracks, much like the lyrics, they’re simple, but they will be stuck in your head. Another great instrumental off the album is “Short Circuit.” This track kicks off with a bang, almost a frantic beat, but then mellows out by the end with a chilling, eerie sound. Even without lyrics, Daft Punk is able to express complex feelings within their tunes. The listener feels a lot just off the beats alone.
My personal favorite track off the album, and perhaps my all time favorite Daft Punk song “Face to Face” puts all of my favorite things about Daft Punk into one track. The beat on this track is perfection. The duo pulls a sample of the chorus of ELO’s “The Evil Woman,” which serves as the center piece for “Face to Face.” The track splices several samples together in a completely mesmerizing fashion, it feels like you’re being taken aboard this crazy wormhole of sound. The chorus once again highlights their terrific songwriting capabilities. The track is open to interpretation, but I like the imagine it has to do with the anxiety the comes from having to confront a significant other. It’s ugly, it’s messy, but as the track puts it, “it’s amazing what you’ll find face to face” I think the beat reinforces this theme. It’s erratic, and all over the place, but flows beautifully. The track articulates the nature of anxiety in relationships in a catchy arrangement.
The album closer, “Too Long” is one of the more subdue moments on the album. To me it feels like Daft Punk is saying farewell to the end of the great adventure that is “Discovery.” It features a great bit of bittersweetness. The first half of the track is calm, reflective and meditates on the journey, the second half hypes you back up almost as if it was saying, “onto the next adventure, the next discovery.”
This album was initially bashed, but has since been regarded as one of the greatest house/dance/electronic albums of ALL time. When conversing with any Daft Punk fan, Discovery tends to place highly on their favorite albums. It’s no surprise. A lot of the iconic sounds and singles come from this album. Without discovery, it’s open to debate whether or not Daft Punk would have reached the level of prestige they did. Their follow up album, Human After All did not age nearly as well as Discovery and audiences didn’t quite catch on to the record in the same way. Their 2013 release, “Random Access Memories,” brought the duo back into limelight, even winning them Album of the year. While I personally find Discovery to be the better album overall, this was a wonderful achievement for the duo.
If you haven’t already given this album a listen – do it. It’s never to late to discover Discovery.