Music publications around the world have taken to ridiculing Daft Punk's new album, Discovery. The reviews often declare the album-described as "overkill" by Rolling Stone-a disappointing follow-up to the Parisian duo's classic 1997 debut, Homework.
That Homework has achieved such legendary status is not a mystery, but its reputation seems to have been created by a lot of people who only heard the album's few singles. Many listeners of Discovery are turned off by the album's weirdness and blatant pandering to clubbers.
Those listeners must never have heard the rest of Homework, an album made by two weird French guys pandering to clubbers.
Discovery marks, without a doubt, a change in direction for Daft Punk. Early rumors that the sound and title of the album would be "very disco" were not far off the mark. Embracing infectious disco grooves-the ones that evolved into the house music of Homework-and synth-altered vocals, Discovery's tunes are a far cry from the sparse, dirty production of the first album.
And let's not forget that the two daft punks themselves, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo, claim that they recently died and were replaced by disco robots.
The opening track and current club hit, "One More Time," moves asses easier than a vibrating gluteal massager. The sound is so full and the bass so deep that their earlier hit "Da Funk" could fit its skinny noodlings inside this behemoth 20 times over. A vocoder-ed Romanthony sings, "We're gonna celebrate," and the rest of the album doesn't disappoint.
The vocoder returns on "Digital Love," a song with an awful name but an infectious summertime melody. The following track, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," with a bassline that most nearly approaches the funk found on Homework, ranks as one of the highlights of the album.
But those are the songs that will sound dated in five years. The French house revolution that started with such old standards as "Around the World" also led to unfortunate atrocities like Cher's "Believe." The first half of Discovery, then, is Daft Punk's announcement to halt the revolution they began.
The rest of the CD goes on to embrace an '80s aesthetic of silky production and faux-emotional lyrics. First put forth by fellow Parisians Phoenix on last year's stellar United (on which Bangalter guests), this retro sound could well be the next rage.
Some might complain that Daft Punk abandoned the funk that made Homework so special, but one listen to that album's "Teachers" reveals the oddity of the two artists-and puts Discovery into perspective. They were cheesy back then and they're cheesy right now. The new album might not be perfect, but it's very disco and very good.
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