From the opening pulse and grind of "Messed Up," Motor's continual willing plunge into the precision and rigor of '80s-derived electronic body music remains central, but the particular heavy-breathing invocations of bodily disruption and sex featured here feel far more 21st century, a leap from the conceptual human/robot fusion era to one where Daft Punk's exaltations became a sleaze template for people to get wasted to. Not a complaint -- if Man Made Machine can't and doesn't want to escape from its roots, it's because it embraces them so fully while happily hot-wiring them for a different time and set of sensibilities. When it comes to saluting the roots, the Kraftwerk-referencing album title is just the start of it, with the guest vocal appearances' less familiar vocal tones as careful reworkings of expectations. The Some Great Reward synth stabs on "Messed Up" implicitly herald Martin Gore's purring turn on the title track a little later, a glam rock/schaffel-paced stomper that couldn't be better pitched toward the Depeche Mode singer (especially since he tackles it in a lower register suited for his later-in-life vocal range). Gary Numan further ups the ante with his own "Pleasure in Heaven," his familiar dryly passionate tone further transformed into a heavily electronics-laden voice floating above and through the mix like a perverted angelic voyeur. Elsewhere, Nitzer Ebb's Douglas McCarthy exchanges barked commands for sinuous threats on "The Knife," while Billie Ray Martin's turn on "Hyper Lust" is equally compelling and driven. If the multiplicity of notable voices makes Motor-only songs like "Control" and "In the Dark" sound a touch more anonymous as a result, they've got the functionality and punch to work just fine regardless -- and if the solemn "Automne" in particular seems like another Depeche nod toward such B-sides as "Sibelung" and "Agent Orange," it's handled spectacularly well.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett