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Daft Punk 

Discovery (Virgin)

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With 1997's Homework, Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo ran a mainline from the subversive dance/rave scene of French clubmongers straight into the electronic oblivion of suburbanites. The group's roguish Chicago house style not only gave adolescent mutineers something to dance to, but provided the first real bridge to the musical world of house. And while Homework garnered massive mainstream success for the group, Daft Punk's unique style and distinctive production in no way were compromised by the success.

As the title suggests, the group's second album goes in new directions. Dropping the guise of rebel ravers who have cornered the market on crafty originality, the twosome embrace a world of kitsch. The album's single, "One More Time," is the embodiment of the group's newfound infatuation with disco. The song's funky loops and tacky vocals by Romanthony -- who sounds frighteningly like Cher in "Believe" -- is a throwback to Europop. Nearly every track on the disc calls to mind a cheap disco or pop artist from the '70s -- "Digital Love" has echoes of Abba, "Something About Us" sounds like Daryl Hall, and "Crescendolls" could pass for early Prince. All the while, bad synthesizers and sappy computer-altered vocals fill the songs, especially "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and "Short Circuit." Fortunately, Daft Punk doesn't just regurgitate old beats; it creates ambient scores in songs such as "Voyager," "Veridis Quo," and the album's best dance track, "Face to Face," which features singer Todd Edwards. But in the end, Discovery is a shameless excursion into the corporate world of pop, led by music's all-time pop hybrid bastard: disco.

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