Daft Punk Homework Track By Track Review
Well-versed in Chicago house and Detroit techno and taking a nod from disco maven Giorgio Moroder, Parisian duo Daft Punk (DJs Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter) helped blaze a trail for French techno with their 1997 debut, Homework. Led by hits like the unrelenting “Da Funk” and the dizzying “Around the World,” the album is a savory mix of borderline-cheesy filtered loops and super-simple drum machine beats and basslines. The duo’s influences are revealed sonically (“Oh Yeah” references Kraftwerk) and literally (everyone from Brian Wilson to Dr. Dre are name-dropped on the aptly-titled retro feast “Teachers”). While a few tracks are more daft than deft (“Rollin’ & Scratchin’” is a rather soulless thumper), the crunchy guitar licks of the aquatic “Fresh” and the sampled vocals and horny horns of “High Fidelity” prove that more recent groundbreakers like the Avalanches could never exist without Da Funk.
Daft Punk are one of those rare electronic acts whose music transcends multiple groups of music listeners. Rock, dance and pop music aficionados can all find something to embrace from their back catalogue. Of course, most people growing up in the 90’s would be very familiar with Da Funk, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I personally became exposed to their albums. The duo’s LP from that year Human After All was a major disappointment for many, with fans even speculating that an early leak of the record was fake, due to it’s driving repetitive, simplistic nature. But it was around the summer of 05, when hanging out at a friends house that I first heard Homework. My initial reaction to it was something like, “What the fuck is this? And why in God’s name have I never heard it before?!” My friends reaction was simply to state that Homework was “The quintessential house album.” I had heard electronic music before this point here and there, (more often than not via The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and The Prodigy). Homework was a revelation though. For the last 10 years or so, whenever I want to discover new house or electronic music, the general play is to pop Daft Punk into the Last.fm radio generator or by Spotify playlist searching, and see what other artists get thrown my way.
Before deciding they were robots, Daft Punk’s masks were even weirder!
The album begins with the double shot of “Daftendirekt”, a live recording which served as an intro to Daft Punk’s live shows at the time, and “WDPK 83.7 FM”, a tribute to American FM radio. The two tracks serve as a brief, succinct overview of what the listener can expect to follow. The LP moves from light-hearted, head-nodding groove of songs like “Phoenix” and “Fresh,” to the the disco-infused funk of “Around the World,” to the hardcore thump of “Rollin’ and Scratchin'” and “Rock n’ Roll,” and even the G-Funk influenced aforementioned “Da Funk”. Regardless of the electronic style that Daft Punk are unleashing on your ears, the record never loses its momentum or its urgency.
One of the reasons that the music video for “Da Funk” was set in New York at night was purportedly due to the track being of the very nature of the kind of music one would listen to when embarking on a night on the town. That same consensus can be applied to Homework as a whole. So the next time you’re readying yourself for a night on the tiles, whether you’re applying your make-up, pre-drinking with your friends, or possibly both of those things, throw on Daft Punk’s magnificent debut album to get you in the right mood. Just don’t be surprised if whatever DJ you encounter pales in comparison to the 74 minute magnum opus of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.