Instead of maintaining an icy detachment from its popularity, which might have been the best attitude to assume, Kraftwerk has attempted to duplicate Autobahn‘s success with a concept album. Like most concept albums, it’s loaded with dead spots. Cuts like “Geiger Counter,” “Intermission” and “News” are plain stupid, and no cut on the album comes near the melodic/harmonic sense that pervaded Autobahn or the creative use of electronics on the much earlier album Ralf and Florian, which Vertigo released recently. Only Radio-Activity‘s final two numbers, “Transistor” and “Ohm Sweet Ohm,” give any indication of what these guys can do, and the latter is almost a carbon copy of “Autobahn” ‘s techniques.
Kraftwerk is a talented ensemble, as its earlier Vertigo records clearly show. The novelty aspect of Radio-Activity may well spur plenty of radio activity, but one hopes Kraftwerk goes back to music-making soon.