So seminal and hip was Daft Punk’s 1997 album Homework that LCD Soundsystem called one of their singles Daft Punk Is Playing At My House. The last word in Gallic cool, even Kylie‘s career renaissance is in part attributed to her embracing of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s vocoder-laden sound.
Fast forward to 2005. When a selection of tracks purporting to be from Daft Punk’s new record appeared on the web, rumours flared. Hardcore fans claimed the tracks were hoaxes, concocted to copy the ultra-successful French duo’s trademark electro-vocoder sound. But the tracks sounded curiously half baked, like someone’s attempt to sound like Daft Punk rather than the real thing, and the new record remained eagerly awaited.
Trouble was, the tracks weren’t hoaxes, and that new record, Human After All, really does need time back in the oven. Without exception, the tracks on this record sound repetitive and tired. Worst of a bad batch is The Prime Time Of Your Life, a stuttering tedium of repeated phrases and squelchy percussion that doesn’t so much invite the listener to dance as make depressing the fast forward button imperitive.
Robot Rock thwacks down two guitar notes over drums and a repeated synth guitar phrase… and repeats it over and over again. Just when it seems it’s about to mercifully end, it kick-starts again, as if purposefully to grate. Incredibly, this tedium drags on for nearly five minutes.
Steam Machine again starts with a promising musical idea but goes nowhere, opting for repetition over structure or variation. At least it’s just about punchy enough to dance to distractedly. Make Love imponderably ambles on, the same 16-bar phrase looped and looped and looped. The Brainwasher sounds like a collection of samples from Queen‘s Flash Gordon soundtrack and again offers an initially promising idea, only for a lack of development to once again disappoint.
Only the pumping Technologic comes close to being worth a second listen. A robot munchkin drones over a perfectly danceable beat and the by now overly familiar Daft Punk synth bass. But even here repetition grates.
At best, Human After All is music to exercise by, if your gym doesn’t have any other CDs.