One of the main men (alongside James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy) behind DFA and former member of Six-Finger Satellite, Juan Maclean’s debut is damaged electro with a dark heart. For all its inferences to robotic disco, this is not a Daft Punk album (despite the similarity in name to that band’s latest: Human After All) – although it uses dance as is its language, Less than Human has all the subtle nuance and idiosyncasy of electronica.
Part Kraftwerk, part Add (N) to X, part Underworld, part (obvoiusly) LCD Soundsystem, there is only one track that seems meant to tear up the dancefloor, the brilliant Give Me Every Little Thing (also heard on DFA compilation vol.2). ‘AD 2003′ is a taster, at a couple of minutes length, of the ice cool electro that dominates the LP, while ‘Shining Skinned Friend’ is a demented menage a trois of robotic voices complimented by shimmering synths, and rollicking DFA rythmns. This track in particular – despite the Doctor Who vocal effects – undermines its dancefloor textures with subtle subversions.
Whereas ‘Tito’s Way’ leans more towards the punk-funk blueprint, ‘Love Is In The Air’ and the downbeat vocoder of ‘In The Afternoon’ come off as a melancholy, less insincere Air. ‘My Time is Running Out’ is an awesome cut of IDM electro that throws a bone to Warp afficiandos, while ‘Crush the Liberation’ reminds of Out Hud, with its no wave chanting and syn drums, but disintergrates into periods of Eno-ish Ambience. ‘Dance with Me’ the 14 minute closer, is a masterpiece – evoking end-of-the night dancefloor fatigue, with 303 patterns shifting in and out of focus before reaching a kind of redemptive dawn in the form of gentle piano chords. A real talent then, although some of the tracks could have been developed further to up the overall length of the album.