Human After All is the third studio album by the French electronic music duo Daft Punk, released on 14 March 2005 internationally and a day later in the United States by Virgin Records. With this album, the duo took a more minimalistic and improvisational approach to their music using a mixture of guitars and electronics. A remix album, Human After All: Remixes was released exclusively in Japan. Human After All was Daft Punk's last studio album to be released by Virgin Records.
Human After All received mixed reviews from critics, who derided its minimalistic and repetitive nature and its reported six-week creation, which was particularly short compared to the production of Discovery and Homework. However, the singles "Robot Rock" and "Technologic" charted in several countries while the title track "Human After All" charted in France. The album's songs would later be incorporated into Daft Punk's Alive 2006/2007 tour, which received critical acclaim. Human After All reached number one on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart, and was nominated for the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album.
Background and music
Daft Punk had considered Human After All to be their favorite of the three studio albums they had released at the time, and had regarded it as "pure improvisation". An early press release stated that the record would "[retain] their trademark Daft Punk sound, this time with a more spontaneous and direct quality to the recording". Human After All's brief creation and minimal production had been decided upon beforehand as a counterpoint to their previous album. As Thomas Bangalter of the duo stated, "We were definitely seduced at the time by the idea of doing the opposite of Discovery." He compared the deliberately unpolished record to "a stone that's unworked". Human After All was created primarily with two guitars, two drum machines, a vocoder and one eight-track machine. Furthermore, it was produced in two weeks and mixed in four, a session in sharp contrast to their older material.
Bangalter stated that the album was an attempt to discover where human feelings reside in music. He later commented that "we felt like the third album was about this feeling of either fear or paranoia... [The record is] not something intended to make you feel good". Bangalter felt that Human After All and the film Daft Punk's Electroma are both "extremely tormented and sad and terrifying looks at technology, yet there can be some beauty and emoting from it." He acknowledged the perceived mechanical quality of the record, but felt that it expressed "the dance between humanity and technology".
As Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo noted, "Every album weâve done is tightly linked with our lives. [...] The internal, personal stuff Thomas went through during Human After All made it closer to where he was at the time". When questioned on the positive reaction to the use of the tracks in Daft Punk's Alive 2006/2007 tour, Bangalter expressed that, "Human After All was the music we wanted to make at the time we did it. We have always strongly felt there was a logical connection between our three albums, and it's great to see that people seem to realize that when they listen now to the live show."
The cover image of Human After All features the Daft Punk logo displayed on a television screen. Each single from the album ("Robot Rock", "Technologic", "Human After All" and "The Prime Time of Your Life") features a cover with a different image on a similar screen. This theme is also integrated into several tracks from the album, including "On/Off" and "Television Rules the Nation". Bangalter cited the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell as an inspiration for the record.
Release and promotion
When the album was leaked on the Internet several months before release, fans speculated that it was a fake designed to foil online filesharing. Human After All on compact disc was embedded with the Copy Control protection system in some regions. Spin recalled that the album's official release was ill-timed, as it occurred after the end of the "major-label electronica movement" of the 1990s, but before the rise of independent dance labels such as DFA Records and Ed Banger. The Japan edition of the album artwork features a quote from Daft Punk stating: "We believe that Human After All speaks for itself." At the time of release, the duo refused to be interviewed; they felt that using the media to explain the album would run contrary to the album's theme regarding the media as an oppressive force. De Homem-Christo later said that choosing to be silent was the worst decision they had ever made.
The Alive 2006/2007 tour, which featured songs from Human After All, caused many to reconsider their initial feelings towards the album. Pedro Winter, Daft Punk's manager at the time, stated, "When we put out Human After All, I got a lot of bad feedback, like, 'It's so repetitive. There's nothing new. Daft Punk used to be good.' Then they came back with the light show, and everyone shut their mouths... People even apologized, like, 'How could we have misjudged Daft Punk?' The live show changed everything. Even if I'm part of it, I like to step back and admire it. Me, I cried." The first single "Robot Rock" received moderate attention, reaching number 32 in the UK and number 15 on the US dance charts, but was not a major hit. The second single "Technologic" only hit number 40 in the UK but did considerably better in airplay. The track was also featured on The O.C. and in an iPod commercial. The title track "Human After All" reached number 93 in France.
Daft Punk directed the music videos for the songs "Robot Rock" and "Technologic" while Tony Gardner directed the video for "The Prime Time of Your Life". The duo intended to make a video for the song "Human After All" as well, but the footage they shot for it was expanded to create the film Daft Punk's Electroma instead. Songs from Human After All also appear in the Daft Punk compilation Musique Vol. 1 1993â"2005 and the live album Alive 2007, the duo's last release under Virgin Records. In a 2008 interview, de Homem-Christo stated that the duo were then free of all record contracts. Daft Punk would later pursue one-time contracts with Walt Disney Records and Columbia.
Human After All received generally mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 57, based on 28 reviews. In his review for Blender magazine, Simon Reynolds said that Discovery's blissful and "open-hearted" music is replaced by "an archly ironic dance-rock that feels desultory and numb-verging on autistic". Q magazine felt that it lacks the "fun" of Daft Punk's previous work. Barry Walters of Rolling Stone said that the duo generally "repeats rather than elaborates its riffs", and that they "exaggerate their band's own robotic tendencies here, much to the detriment of its grooves." Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian called the album "a joyless collection of average ideas stretched desperately thin". Robert Christgau from The Village Voice graded the album a "dud", indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought". In a positive review, Matthew Weiner of Stylus Magazine stated, "it's the same story, track after track, willfully mistaking alternation for variation, intensification for development and dynamics. In other words, a shining example of pop songcraft in the 21st century." Mojo magazine said that it "strips out the most flamboyant frills to create a more incisive sound". Human After All was nominated for the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album.
All tracks written by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, except where noted.
- "Robot Rock" features sampled portions of "Release the Beast" performed by Breakwater.
- Daft PunkÂ â" vocals, guitars, drum machine, synthesizer, piano, bass guitar, vocoder, programming, production
- CÃ©dric HervetÂ â" production coordination
- Gildas LoaÃ«cÂ â" production coordination
- Nilesh "Nilz" PatelÂ â" mastering
Human After All: Remixes was released on 29 March 2006 exclusively in Japan. It features numerous remixes previously unavailable on CD in a limited pressing of 3,000 copies. A limited edition of the album included a set of Daft Punk Kubricks. The album implements a Copy Control system. Track 10 was previously titled "Robot Rock (Maximum Overdrive)" in the single release of "Robot Rock".
In June 2014, a reissue of the album was released, also exclusive to Japan. The new edition features four additional bonus tracks. In August 2014, Daft Punk silently gave the album its first ever digital, international release, containing an additional remix of "Technologic" by Le Knight Club.
As of May 2013, Human After All has sold 127,000 copies in the US and 80,838 copies in the UK.
- Human After All at Discogs (list of releases)
- Human After All: Remixes at Discogs (list of releases)