France - Full Moon 104 - 03/25/05
Human After All
Another record that was leaked and then gossiped about like a out-of-wedlock pregnancy in rural North Carolina, Human After All had already divided up fans weeks before it was released. I'd say about 75% of them hated it. Daft Punk hadn't given them what they wanted at all: they said you couldn't dance to it, they
said it sounded like a band trying to rip off Daft Punk, and they said "Technologic" is the silliest thing they've heard out of any band in a long time. This new Daft Punk record must be a joke!
Well, I disagree with that. Just like how I think Discovery sucks, I think this record is fucking deck.
The record opens with the title song. "Human After All" begins with an extremely heavy drum-machine beat and signiture vocoder (the only band ever to use it well). Electric guitar, something much less signiture to Daft Punk, enters, and the song's hook is presented. "We are human after all", they sing. The vocal
hook, repeated a whole bunch of times, might have benefited from a bit more interpolation, but this repetetiveness is a big part of what Human After All is trying to say. It's a fine melody dovetailed with the guitar-hook over backdrops of vocoded "yeah" and "uh huh"s. Just what I need.
"The Primetime of Your Life" does spend a good portion of it's time in "non-danceable" territory (if that's really even possible, I think you can dance to any music no matter what, but I digress). That doesn't make this a bad song, though. The vocoder is again creatively used here. A saving dance beat enters around
half-way through, and then Daft Punk pull a fucking awesome trick that isn't done enough in dance music: accelerando. To top it off, this increase in tempo awesomely doesn't stop until the sound shoots off into infinity like a fractal.
The first single follows. "Robot Rock" uses more heavy heavy electric guitar. The overdriven guitar is a bit of an odd sound out of Daft Punk, but works well because of how huge their sound wants to be. A cock-rock beat drives this tune, making it another difficult dance song as well as new territory for Daft Punk. I'm fond of how challenging they are being on this record. The sound has poorly surprised some, but it is proving to be fucking great to me. It is an odd choice for first single.
The mid-section of this record begins comparitively a bit understated with "Steam Machine" and "Make Love". In "Steam Machine" a strait-ahead dance beat propells held-out whispers of the lyric "steam machine". "Make Love" breaks from heavyness altogether, featuring a very nice piano chord progession behind palm-muted soft guitar melodies and arpeggios. You can hear uncoded voice softly underneath all that. "The Brainwasher" snaps us out of the lull "Make Love" created. 4 to the floor bass kicks your ass, and as for the rest of your body, it's taken out by the double-fast synth part. This is likely the absolute best dance song on this album, and its placement, while at first jolting, is perfect.
"On off" is a 40 second recording of someone flipping channels then turning the tele off in (presumably) frustration, and provides an intro for "Television Rules the Nation". I Have to hand it to Daft Punk, this obvious little simple half-rhyme turns into a hell of a song. Guitar returns on this track, here reminding
me a bit of the one-hit-wonder "Ratatat" from last year. And while a slower tempo (around 116 bpm), this certainly is nothing but a driving, hard track. In "Technologic", probably the smartest track on the album, we hear Daft Punk rhythmically and very obnoxiously going off at the mouth about computers over a signiture beat. This is definitely a wordy tune, which is something again very odd for this band, but I think it suits them well. The mouth-running unfortunately does stick around about two-minutes too long. Still a good track, but this sticks out to me as being a little out of step with the rest of the album. Human After All finishes out with a gorgeous song called "emotion", which might just be my favorite on the record.
Human After All takes Daft Punk to new and beautiful places; this is a great album. You might hate it though! So give it a try.
Copyright © 2005 Bill Banks