With Daft Punk’s recent breakup in February of 2021, people are looking back at how much of an impact the duo made on electronic and house music. Having only four albums to their name, as well as a live album, their short yet legendary discography was loved by many.
The 1990s were very rough for disco. Everyone was sick and tired of the genre, including the artists themselves. ABBA, the Bee Gees, almost every disco hit from the 80’s you can imagine. But later in the decade, France had a bit of a revolution. French House was making a boom in the country, including elements of house, techno, and disco. Two lone guys in college named Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo quit rock music, finding the more electronic scene way more interesting. They formed Daft Punk in 1993, naming it after a snarky review a journalist gave them of a demo they gave to newspapers.
In 1997, their debut album Homework released to critical and audience success in Europe but had yet to be fully grasped in the United States. Tracks like ‘Around the World,’ ‘Da Funk’ and ‘Revolution 909’ set the stage for experimentation in the French House scene. Thomas and Guy-Manuel went straight to work on their sophomore full-length record but with a twist.
Discovery was released on February 26, 2001, to very mixed reviews from critics But very wide-spread success from all around the world, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, charted 1 and 2 on the charts respectively. It was so popular in the dance scene that it got its own movie. Interstellar 5555, released two years after Discovery, was a movie based on the album. The art style is based on the anime art style from the time, and it follows an alien band playing Daft Punk’s music.
Getting to the music, it’s an hour of electronic bliss, right off the bat with ‘One More Time.’ The auto-tuned vocals, the disco samples, and the oddly crisp drums just make for a disco anthem for decades to come. ‘Aerodynamic’ sees the duo use guitar in the slickest way possible, adding synths and bright shots of snare drum throughout the song. ‘Digital Love’ is a, well, digital love song. It’s one of the more funk-inspired songs, later to be the focal point of their final album, Random Access Memories. ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger is one of their most recognizable songs, another anthem in their catalog that somehow adds to the story of Discovery.
Near the middle of the album is basically the transition point of the album. The beginning is where a good chunk of the plot unfolds, and now we just have straight house jams that let the rest of the story unfold, or at least if you watch Interstellar 5555. ‘Crescendolls’ is easily my favorite of this section, with it being super high energy, and its vocal sampling adds a lot of life to the song. ‘Something About Us’ is where a shift in tone happens, it’s the lowest point on the album emotionally. It’s basically another love song but in a sadder tone. From this point on, the album reflects on itself thus far.
‘Voyager’ is a traveling song, hence the title, and it fits the feeling well. ‘Veridis Quo’ and ‘Short Circuit’ are complete opposites of each other, however. ‘Veridis Quo’ is another electronic ballad, but ‘Short Circuit’ brings the tensity back up a little bit, bringing us to ‘Face to Face,’ my favorite deep cut on the album. It’s so full of energy, with the only non-robotic vocals on the album along with ‘Too Long,’ the closer.
This album is known as one of the best albums in electronic music for a reason. The sheer influence this album had on so many artists to come is amazing. Daft Punk was re-inventing the wheel only 4 years into their mainstream career, and it would bring a massive amount of influence to house and disco music.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
FAVORITE TRACKS: ONE MORE TIME, AERODYNAMIC, DIGITAL LOVE, CRESCENDOLLS, HIGH LIFE, VOYAGER, FACE TO FACE
LEAST FAVORITE TRACK: SHORT CIRCUIT