Homework album cover
Homework

Daft Punk

1997
Virgin

Often all a dance music act needs to do to transition from singles hitmakers to album auteurs is just keep cranking out hot tracks — that’s how Daft Punk gave us one of house’s most legendary debut album-as-mission statement breakthroughs. Homework shines in part because those early singles, both preceding and leading the album, were so brazen in their enthusiastic retrofuturism; they made it sound like the peak disco-funk ’70s never ended but still mutated to fit the times. “Da Funk” is an era-bridging travelogue from robotic roller boogie to feverish acid house, “Around the World” steeps itself in the same Troutman talkbox glide as West Coast g-funk but at twice the tempo, “Indo Silver Club” weaves fragments of classic West End disco into oscillating synth delirium, “Burnin’” is a perfect melding of primitive-analog spaciness to an incredibly sprightly-yet-heavy bassline, and “Revolution 909” opens by overpowering the threat of the cops (and anyone else) pulling the plug before filtering its monomaniacal 4/4 through headswimming phasing FX like it’s dredging up hazy memories of dancefloors past. It’s all drawing off three decades at once, a history of post-Loft club music so thorough and enthusiastic that of course they dedicate nearly three minutes of the album to shouting out a few dozen of their polygenre inspirations from George Clinton to Jeff Mills to Armand Van Helden on “Teachers.” But aside from little interstitial moments like that and the meta-self-promotional brand-reinforcing blips that serve as de facto bookending skits, the thing that makes Homework cohere as an album and not just singles-plus-filler is how their adventurousness just hits the mark every time, creating an overarching identity of disco-continuum revivalism that still leaves a lot of room for them to branch out. Deep cuts like the tide-rolling dawnbreak warmth of “Fresh,” the industrial-grade hammer blows of “Alive,” and the boiler-explosion heat of “Rollin’ & Scratchin’” provide some proof that they probably just could’ve gotten away with dropping them as new bangers every few months — but hearing it all as a single body of work emphasizes that they were really on their way to building one of the great pop legacies in dance music.

Nate Patrin

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