Daft Punk – Homework

Calxie #2: Axe murderers: albums that could have killed the guitar. Nominee 2 of 4

“I was the first guy playing Daft Punk to the rock kids… Everybody thought I was crazy.” says James Murphy in ‘Losing My Edge’. Crossover success wasn’t something these two Parisian twenty-somethings were looking for, but it still came knocking. This sounds like dance music, it doesn’t sound like rock music, but it still rocks. You’ll hear it being played in the foodstalls at festivals alongside Foo Fighters. It’s the textures and ideas that make it so different from other house records; it’s harsher, dirtier, funkier; its textures are rougher than Keith Richards’ lungs, it’s more creative and – more importantly – it doesn’t sound like it’s pandering to a “target audience”. It doesn’t care whether you like it or not because as long as it’s making a grinding racket it will keep going. It’s neither made for stereotypical sweaty men in leather or scantily-clad pole-sliding bimbos.

The songs themselves mix Chicago house, funk, squealing rock and even the occasional guitar solo (by occasional I mean one). The solo in question appears on ‘Fresh’, probably the gentlest track here, with frothing synths, breaking waves and plenty of whooshing flangey filters; you could call it the album’s come down period, if it didn’t appear so early in the album, since what follows is a barrage of relentless, effortlessly danceable, yet simple, electronica master-strokes. ‘Around The World’ is the album’s defining track, a handful of elements, all appearing at different times and in different combinations to brilliant effect; ‘Rollin’ and Scratchin” is pure, exhilarating noise making; ‘Burnin” is like a squelchy, sketchy Funkadelic malfunction; ‘Alive’ is the sound of pounding pistons in a gigantic machine, but the clear show-stealer here is ‘Da Funk’, a wow-wowing, street-smart urban shuffle that ranks among dance music’s finest achievements.

Though its influences were fairly obvious, ‘Homework’ kicked down the door for barrowloads of other bands waiting in the wings. For consistent entertainment value, it doesn’t quite match up to the duo’s era-defining classic second album ‘Discovery’, but for “these go up to 11” thrills, very few albums shake the foundations like ‘Homework’. Turn this up, loud. It just feels wrong when it’s quiet.

Key track: Around The World


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