It’s finally happened: the Daft Punk album that’s been talked about since the French house duo Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter signed with Columbia Records in January has been confirmed. The build-up to the announcement shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as the group and label have been heavily hinting that this is where we were headed. A mysterious 15-second teaser aired during “Saturday Night Live” earlier this month, and Sony (which owns Columbia) registered 13 untitled songs with PPL, a UK-based organization that licenses recorded music, just over a week ago. But we’re no longer dealing in possibilities. It was revealed on Saturday that the group’s fourth studio album, “Random Access Memories,” will hit physical and digital stores on May 21 (the album was also made available for preorder on i Tunes). And, if only to whet our appetites even more, another 15 seconds of new music was premiered later that night, again on “SNL.”
So why is this a big deal? Daft Punk, probably more than any other artist, have made house music palatable to American audiences. There’s no debate that musicians like The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and Prodigy helped popularize electronic dance music in the ’90s, but no one has had more sustained success than de Homen-Christo and Bangalter. There have been gold records, Grammys, and, of course, some extremely memorable music videos. The duo was immortalized on “The Simpsons” and people were actually excited that they scored Disney’s 2010 “Tron” sequel. Americans love the band, but our devotion pales in comparison to that of the rest of the world, particularly Europe, where de Homen-Christ and Bangalter are considered living legends.
And while Daft Punk have managed to stay in the public eye (at least as much as two guys who constantly wear robot masks in public can), this will be the first studio album from the band since 2005’s fairly disappointing “Human After All,” a title which proved to be a little more apt than the duo probably intended. There’s been a celebrated live album and the “Tron: Legacy” score, but nothing that could be compared to the group’s beloved first two albums, 1997’s “Homework” and 2001’s “Discovery.” No, this isn’t as big as My Bloody Valentine releasing a follow up to “Loveless” 21 years later, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get on the anticipated new album list of 2013.
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