No question that Kraftwerk are shackled to the past. Their original "Tour de France" single came out twenty years ago, and four of the twelve tracks on their first new album in a dozen years are (clever) versions of it. But on records such as Trans-Europe Express, masterminds Ralf HÅ¸tter and Florian Schneider mapped out the continent of electronic pop, and even now they belong and thrive there as much as anyone. It's apt that this album appears almost simultaneously with the final classic-style Volkswagen Beetle rolling off the assembly line in Mexico. If you're the sort who would feel fuddy-duddy driving a perfect, new VW Beetle, avoid Tour de France. If you're one who would proudly point out the offbeat grace and unlikely persistence of a vivid personality in a machine, Kraftwerk endure. On the canny French-house-style tracks such as "Aero Dynamik," you can even claim it contains Porsche components.
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