Let’s assume for a second that MSTRKRFT had some outside help in crafting this album. Let’s assume the members of Daft Punk, disappointed with the result of their last album, Human After All (2005), but too proud to admit it, approached the duo of Jesse Keeler and Al-P about collaborating on an album. Maybe Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter wanted to do the whole thing themselves. But because of the pride thing, they would give all the credit to MSTRKRFT. And let’s assume they called this album The Looks.
Yes, The Looks plays out like Human After All 1.5: gritty synths, electric guitars, and vocoders galore. But it’s new and improved. The Looks is more accessible than Human After All, with song structures that flow like the best off Daft Punk’s Discovery (2001). If Daft Punk didn’t have a hand in creating The Looks, MSTRKRFT obsessively listened to that duo’s catalog before, during and after this album’s recording.
Songs such as opener “Work on You” epitomize the progressive-pop/house sound that originated in Paris during the late ’90s. And in case any listener couldn’t pick up on the Daft Punk sound, the video for this song looks as though it was part of Interstella 5555, the video accompaniment for Discovery. That is not to say that the album is excessively derivative of Daft Punk. “She’s Good for Business” sounds more like “Metro Area meets The Go! Team” and “Paris” reveals the DFA1979 influence that lurks over this album.
Perhaps this album’s greatest virtue is the fact that it finishes strong, warranting a beginning-to-end listen. “Bodywork” and “Neon Lights” round out the album and are two of its strongest cuts. “Bodywork” is another cut that (yes, you guessed it) sounds like it was taken from the Human After All recording sessions, and “Neon Lights” sounds as though Keeler and Al-P went back to Homework for inspiration.
If you were to take the five strongest tracks from Human After All and the five strongest tracks from The Looks and combine it into one album, it would play out like another classic Daft Punk effort. This is both a good and a bad thing. The Looks is prevented from achieving classic status due to its derivative nature, but its finds success in the Daft Punk formula all the same.