Of all the albums this reviewer has re-reviewed, of which there are numerous, none have been done as much as Human After All. This oughta tip you off as to the material within, which is most definitely the most stark and alienating material released by Daft Punk to date. They've successfully conquered - with powerful authority - both the pop world and the electronic world, so one would wonder how to follow up such a feat. It's hard to picture anyone expecting this.
Repeated listens slowly reveal Human After All to be somewhat of a concept album, with its running theme being robotic music made by and for robots, which could be their attempt at satire. It's anthems for androids, and never does it feel more of a daunting listen than the first. Every song - repeat, every song - has a limited palette of a few different synth lines, a couple of repeated lyrics, and a modestly catchy hook. But there is little elaboration on any of it, as it simply repeats itself at its leisure until it decides to stop, all of it rendered even more confrontational by the icy production. Take lead single "Robot Rock." It takes a sampled, single note riff punctuated by a descending synth melody and proceeds to absolutely run it into the ground for almost 5 minutes, making one thankful for every opportunity for the listener to catch one's breath. It's so limited in scope (to be frank, the radio edit is an improvement) it becomes comical as it drones on and on. Like one of those Family Guy jokes that's cute at first but gets repeated over and over until you laugh, and then get kind of frustrated, and then laugh again. "Emotion" is another example of this, as the title word is repeated - robotically of course - again and again and again until it just becomes a running joke. This occurs frequently on the album and becomes its main gimmick. It's not helped much by the cold, grimy "Prime Time Of Your Life" which gets by on an out-of-character shuffle beat that suddenly begins to speed up and overtake itself.
So what was the point? A piss-take on critics? Other artists? Themselves? Whatever the cause, it's not that this is a bad album. Occasionally, the repetition - much like the funk music that formerly influenced their work - tends to become hypnotic, like on "The Brainwasher," which has a certain spark to it that keeps you dancing as it keeps pounding out a big, nasty hook ad infinitum - brainwashers indeed! "Make Love" proves to be the prettiest moment on the album, with its own repeated hook just warming the soul. The title track is addictive, with a little more body to it than the other songs and with its strong pop hook could have fit in well on Discovery. And "Technologic" needs to be heard to be fully appreciated. So no, it's not their best album, nor is it an easy one to love, as they've never sounded quite as alienating as this (indeed, it put many fans off who were pulled in by Discovery). But if one has a real passion for dance music, repeated listens show off some of the nastiest grooves Daft Punk ever produced.