Virgin – 2005 - 45 minutes
When Daft Punk released 'Discovery', their long-awaited second LP, the world's critics gathered 'round to proclaim that it 'wasn't as good as the first one'. Three years later, we were all still enjoying 'Discovery's pristine space operatics and glittering guitar hysterics.
With 'Human After All', those critical knives are out again, but this time the thumbs down may well remain permanent.
The last 12 months have seen lacklustre releases from Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, Moby and Orbital. Electronica's blue-chip acts have been seriously disappointing, so the pressure on the Parisian duo to deliver was intense.
Instead of a worthy follow-up to their titanic first two albums, 'Human After All' has a lightweight, disposable air; the kind of record that leaves you still hungry and unsatisfied after a couple of listens.
The opening title track has that old swagger, and all the elements of the Daft Punk sound are present and correct – vocoders, fuzzed-up guitars and pounding beats. Unfortunately the problems start on the next song, 'The Prime Time of Your Life'. More of a glorified chorus than an actual tune, it runs out of ideas after about a minute and sticks around pointlessly for another three-and-a-half.
'Robot Rock' is a cracker, taking that 'Fit But You Know It/Parklife/Jean Genie' riff into new synth and wah-wah-driven territory, showing that Daft Punk are more of a guitar band than anything else these days.
But despite charming moments (the 'Discovery'-lite of 'Make Love') there are simply too many drab loops masquerading as songs on 'Human After All', with tracks like 'The Brainwasher' and 'Television Rules the Nation' sounding tired and horribly dated.
It has been suggested that the formulaic emptiness of 'Human After All' is a satire on the jaded state of contemporary pop. There may well be some truth in this, but that doesn't stop it being a massive disappointment from one of the world's most talented and interesting bands.
Tracklisting: 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