Daft Punk return with their first new studio album in four years, entitled Human After All
. This is their third studio album to date and the follow-up to 2001's Discovery
. Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem Christo recorded the ten tracks of the new album in just six weeks between September and November 2004, in their home studio in Paris. The French electronic music duo came to worldwide attention in 1997, with the release of their debut album Homework
. As ever, the music is diverse and fresh whilst retaining their trademark Daft Punk sound, this time with a more spontaneous and direct quality to the recording. A mix of guitars and machines, Human After All
takes us from the hardcore "Brainwasher" to the pumping "Technologic", with the addition of rockier tracks such as "Robot Rock" and emotional moments such as "Make Love".
You would have thought that the words "new Daft Punk album" would be enough to get most of us scouring the music press chasing a release date. Their contribution to the party over the years has been remarkable. 1997 would not have been so exciting had it not been for their seminal Homework LP and the dance/pop landscape of 2001 would have been very different without the kaleidoscopic Discovery. However, the delivery of album number three comes as a crushing disappointment.
Regrettably, Human After All seems to be nothing more than Daft Punk fulfilling their contractual obligations to the record company. That it was made in just six weeks accounts for the lack of invention contained within the ten tracks here. For the most part the album sounds like a collection of demos that didn't make the grade for the previous album.
Whilst attempting to satirise our reliance on modern gadgetry "Technologic" uses the same cut and paste vocal samples as "Harder Better Faster..." though it fails to capture any of its predecessors dazzling electro-funk or dance floor appeal for that matter.
This anti-technology theme is carried over to the plodding "Television Rules The Nation" which offers little more than a filtered loop of the song's title over a loping beat. With Michael Franti having nailed the idiots lantern so firmly to the post on the 1992 Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy album you do wonder why they have attempted to enlighten us of this self evidentfact in the most un-engaging way.
Perhaps the worst offender here is the closing track "Emotion"... cue 6, long, minutes of more plodding beats and a four chord trick put through the ubiquitous filters.
As the album's only saving grace it is no co-incidence that "Robot Rock" has been released as the first single. This is classic Daft Punk. With the dance floor set firmly in their sights the crashing breaks, mammoth guitar riffs and vocoders are unleashed with a reckless regard for human safety. It's fantastic. If only there were a few more like it.
Despite the themes of this record and the confessional title Daft Punk have managed to sound more machine like than ever. It is as if they have returned to their studio with all the settings still pointing to the year 2001 and pressed the large red button marked with the word "go". If you feel like buying a dance LP and you haven't already done so, get the Mylo album. --Jack Smith
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