Human After All

Studio Album by released in 2005
Human After All's tracklist:
Human After All
The Prime Time of Your Life
Robot Rock
Steam Machine
Make Love
The Brainwasher
On/Off
Television Rules the Nation
Technologic
Emotion

Human After All review

Human After All, the third studio recording from French DJs Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, is an endothermic exploration of man versus machine. The record where Daft Punk open their circuit boards and flash a peek at the humans who hide behind the suits. Because there’s a squelchy warmth at the heart of Human After All that’s been well masked since their arrival with 1997’s era-defining Homework. It’s a record that continues Daft Punk’s probing of the inner workings of 21st-century dance music – a celebration of their pioneering brilliance. But more so Human After All reveals more of what lies in the hearts of its reclusive creators than they’ve ever allowed us to see before. While the duo certainly carries a welcome sense of humor with its work, its intent is not as ironic as many note, but to also jam the senses. Daft Punk confronts our idea of how modern innovations can both co-opt and support outdated conceptions of "real" music.

Like a finely selected mixtape, the album opens with the punchy title track, all pumping drums and quacking guitars. The choked tones and silly vocoders provide an instant hook, as the rhythm drives away. The Prime Time of Your Life drops the rhythm track out momentarily to create a sense of space and a pause for the listener, before pile-driving in a head-on collision with the rumbling Robot Rock. Steam Machine chugs along like a ghost tugboat before cooling out on the moment of respite Make Love. And the same pacing is repeated in the second half of the album. Though Human After All's linear quality is superficially like the duo's more danceable work, many of the tracks are too slow to ignite the dancefloor (however, Television Rules the Nation's robotic, Smoke on the Water meets Iron Man guitar riff nails). The irresistible Technologic, with its catchy disco beat, feels like the next evolution of tracks like Teachers and Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger.

Daft Punk has always been one of dance music's most flexible – and accessible – acts, spanning the relentless pulse of Homework and the lush, sprawling Discovery with a distinctive wit and playfulness that made fans of electronic music diehards and indie rockers alike. Though Human After All retains that playfulness, it's the duo's simplest album, which oddly enough, makes it their most difficult to embrace at first. A heavy dose of guitars, clever sampling, and shifting rhythms make Human After All the group's most challenging work to date. It will likely be taken as a mixed bag. Fans will recognize the group's technobsession (vocoders abound) and sense of humor. Where Homework fit snugly in the DJ's crates, and Discovery condensed hipster '80s nostalgia into a lucid statement, Human fuses the strengths of its predecessors and imbues further curiosity and exploration.

The DP pair, Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, worked quickly, writing and recording the album in six weeks between September and November 2004, yet efficiently, as if in the spirit of their robotic doppelgangers. Human thus runs as smooth as a fresh processor, but requires repeat visits to dissect the program.

(19.04.2005)
Rate review4.79
Total votes - 787


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