Top critical review
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on 17 June 2008
It's worth comparing the careers of near contemporary bands Daft Punk and Air. Both French, both innovators in electronic music and both having critically acclaimed first albums in Homework and Moon Safari.
But where Air seemed to have disappeared into their own vagueness, Daft Punk last hit the studio in 2005, to produce a third album that returns to their roots, an experimental fusion of electro, disco and house.
Recorded in Paris in six weeks, Human After All is a short, idiosyncratic album unlikely to win them new fans.
Experimental means it doesn't always work. Some tracks on here are practically unlistenable, consisting of short loops repeated ad nauseum. For example, it's hard to see the audience for Robot Rock. Seemingly a homage to 80's video game soundtracks, it would need a radical remix to make it in a club, isn't radio friendly and grates to listen to at home.
Most artists seem to struggle to go from breakbeat to house. It may be that having created intricate beat structures, they tend to overcomplicate the simplicity of the 4/4. The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim both sound unconvincing in house mode - and so do two tracks on this album. Television Rules the Nation ends up sounding less than the sum of it's parts, while The Brainwasher does what it says on the tin.
All of which sounds so negative! In fact there are some real standout tracks here. Closing track Emotions, (reminiscent of Quo Veredis on "Discovery") is a great tone track, quite chilled but could be part of a DJ Set.
Technologic is just brilliant, the stand out track from the album. It takes something to make a track that could both have been on the soundtrack to a madcap sci-fi adventure, or is a dark technoir version of Men at Work. You can see why this is such a hit live.
Meanwhile, Make Love seems tailor made for Ibiza, with its minor key and wah-wah guitars.
So an album which is likely to divide listeners - if you liked the shiny fun of Music Sounds Better With You, or virtually the whole of Discovery, you may have until the next one - probably due soon given Daft Punk's usual work rate.
If a challenging analogue style is your thing - get ready to rock!
Standout tracks: Technologic, Make Love