With The Man-Machine Kraftwerk approached a new refinement of their aesthetic, the switch to an all electronic approach now complemented by a more honed focus on individual songs and less on murmuring instrumental experiments. In combination with the clean, sleek images on the precisely designed cover, acting as “The Robots,” as the opening song details, Kraftwerk codified the idea of electronic pop as being simultaneously inhuman and incredibly human, as striking songs like the future UK chart-topper “The Model” and “Neon Lights” demonstrated.
The punchline isn’t that they’re automatons, it’s that automatons can be capable of beauty. Deadpan hilarious (we are the rrrrrobots, doot-doot-doot-do) but also remarkably moving in its futurist optimism (“Spacelab”; “Neon Lights”), and always there with a melody that lasts in the subconscious no matter how minimalist it is. And the rhythms are so mechanically sound you can build an entire foundation of dance around them.