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The Juan Maclean

Less Than Human (Astralwerks)

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The Juan Maclean's "Give Me Every Little Thing" stood in melancholic contrast to the rest of DFA Records' second compilation. On a disc full of aggressively human percussion, tangible vocals and feasibly live instrumentation, "Thing" was artificial and futuristic -- the best song on a great album. "Every Little Thing" also appears on The Juan Maclean's debut opus, Less Than Human, but rarely does the outfit reach the same accidental beauty as it does on that tune. In fact, the album's title is an unfortunately apt description for the disc. Human's a sad attempt at disco love songs, played by an emotionless system of wires; it conjures the image of a dog trying to open a door. Uptempo stomps like "Crush the Liberation" and "My Time Is Running Out" blend together, one synth-driven song turning into the next. The DFA usually excels at somehow making lengthy dance tracks catchy. But only on the fourteen-minute finale, "Dance with Me," does The Juan Maclean get this effect. Less Than Human is enjoyable in short stints, but just isn't human enough.

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