I wasn’t going to review this album because the critical reviews really aren’t as good as you would think and, even more surprising, it did far less well than you think it did, commercially speaking. But I realized, what 2001 album is more relevant in 2021? Sure, they may be a couple, but this album would be on the short list. So, here we are.
Daft Punk, like some other French electronic artists, straddle the line between dance and pop more than a lot of other electronic dance music groups. Their use of vocals helps, as does their use of prominent hooks. There’s a reason they’ve crossed over as much as they have.
And they do feel like they sometimes try to write actual songs, rather than dance tracks, at least some of the time. I suspect that’s more true of their later work but it’s true of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and a few others anyway. (“Digital Love” has actual song lyrics, as opposed to dance lyrics.) For me, one of the big issues with this album is there isn’t enough in the way of these songs. There are too many tracks that are just electronic dance tracks, which don’t do anything for me.
It’s pretty amazing how little the sound of this has dated. They seem to either have influenced an awful lot of people or they did a good job of predicting some of the trends of next couple decades. (It helps that a vocoder can sound like autotune.)
I would like to state that I do appreciate that unlike so many electronic groups, Daft Punk play their instruments. And when I say that I mean, there are honest to goodness keyboard solos and fills on this record! Hallelujah.
It’s fitting that the final track is called “Too Long” because that’s how I feel about the album. You know the hits – well, if you’re in North America you know two of the hits – but there’s a lot fo other stuff on here that doesn’t work as well.
And so I find myself agreeing with the critical consensus and the relative lack of sales, and going against the grain with the popular opinion about this as a classic: there’s too much here that’s not up to snuff, and there are just not enough “songs” for it to be more appealing than other dance albums.