Saying Goodbye to Daft Punk – Human After All (2005)

 Saying Goodbye to Daft Punk – Human After All (2005)

Originally published on VinylAsh.

As my way of dealing with the departure of Daft Punk, I’ve been writing a micro-series of articles about their four studio releases – so far covering Homework, Discovery, and now Human After All.

And I’ll be honest right off the bat – I don’t like this album. Why? Because it’s a step in the wrong direction.

Going from the silky smooth hits of ‘One More Time’ and ‘Digital Love’; or even the groovy and almost trance-like hit ‘Voyager’; or the harsher yet catcher hits in their first album with ‘Around the World’ and ‘Phoenix’, or the funky rhythms of ‘Da Funk’ – to what? Ten songs stuffed with drum machines, bland synthesised vocals and what can only be better described as in-tune static. Critics called it minimalistic. I call it lazy.

Take the title track ‘Human After All’. Within twelve seconds of the opening beat we are interrupted by a heavily synthesised ‘ooh wop, ooh wop’, which any kid can do with a fan. And the thing is… it’s really hard to break down any song on the track because, yes, it’s incredibly minimalistic. ‘Human After All’ has to be, what, three instruments and vocals – which for any rock band is more than enough. But unlike a Guns N’ Roses song, we’re not getting heavy guitar riffs, awesome drum solos and power ballad vocals. We’re getting audio loops, vocal loops and a bland drum beat.

The fourth track is ‘Robot Rock’, which is the best song on the album by far – though not a difficult accolade to achieve. It’s rock, electro – even electro-rock maybe – and is kept alive by a repetitive, yet much brighter, guitar riff. I still can only manage one or two listens, but it isn’t half bad.

Thomas Bangalter says that that Human After All was “the music we wanted to make at the time we did it” – but ‘The Prime Time of Your Life’ is just shit. If they can’t see that, even now, then for me their legacy will forever be tainted. The aforementioned song is basically the same as the first song, but more annoying. The riffs, according to Barry Walters of the Rolling Stones “repeat rather than elaborate”, and I couldn’t agree more. Can you actually listen to about 2 minutes of ‘The Prime Time of Your Life’ without switching off? What are the discernible differences between the first two tracks? Answers on a postcard please.

And wow, we’re only three songs in.

The fourth track is ‘Robot Rock’, which is the best song on the album by far – though not a difficult accolade to achieve. It’s rock, electro – even electro-rock maybe – and is kept alive by a repetitive, yet much brighter, guitar riff. I still can only manage one or two listens, but it isn’t half bad.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t be bothered writing about the rest. ‘Steam Machine’ is woeful and something any 16 year old could knock up with a bit of practice. If it featured in a Matrix Revolutions knock-off it wouldn’t seem out of place. It just feels cheap. But not as cheap as ‘Make Love’, which sounds like the intro music for an American billiards game on the PS1. ‘The Brainwasher’ isn’t pleasant. ‘On/Off’ is just a cheap way to boost the track count. ‘Technologic’ is OK, in that it’s actually catchy – but it doesn’t blow anybody away due to the inherent blandness of repeating the same phrase on top of a relatively bland progressing beat. Which yes, is the premise of a lot of Daft Punk songs, though at least the melodies are generally entertaining.

The final track ‘Emotion’ leaves me emotionless.

I’m glad this one is over to be honest.

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