Kraftwerk, Computer World

I think I like the idea of Computer World more than I like the music in it. Trans Europe Express worked well because it had a grand theme layered on top, and if the music was a little impenetrable at times the subject matter managed to transcend that overall because of its overarching human element. By contrast that isn't at all the case here, because a technologically driven theme layered on top of a technologically driven album doesn't add anything to the experience. Hasn't every Kraftwerk album after they shed their krautrock trappings been, at its most essential level, a computer album? You can see loops and constructs and control flow in the rhythm lines, feel the CPU registers tick with every beat, which makes a song about "Numbers" (with what sounds like a Speak and Spell sharing lead vocals) just seem like a song endlessly repeating digits, like someone typed 10 A=A+1:PRINT A:GOTO 10 into their Commodore 64 and ran it. But in German, verstehst du. Their strongest track is probably the title track, which leads to their awkward overreliance on its comparatively sumptuous theme later on, and "Computer Love" has a nice texture to it (and probably, at least at intervals, the most original lyrics, "I call this number / for a data date"), but their improved production techniques remove the slight and charming imperfections in their earlier works leaving a result that is of simultaneously higher quality and lower emotive value. If that's what they intended, they succeeded, but they ended up losing their soul in the process. On "Home Computer" they sing about our home computers bringing us into the future, but the computer world I remember from the 1980s was a lot more fun than this album is. (Content: no concerns.)