Somewhat pitifully, "Tour de France" appears in four versions, ranging from an ambient mix to a rousing and disconcerting sports arenasize take, complete with new lyrics (in French and perhaps even less enlightening than the original's "Flat tire on the paving stone/ The bicycle is repaired quickly"). Sadly, these variations feel like a ploy more than anything else, since the new mixes don't enrich the original in any way.
The album improves markedly in its second half. The undeniable rump-shaker of the set, "Aéro Dynamik," finds Kraftwerk working with a quickened pace and a metallic breakbeat -- maybe a first? -- which anchors warm, minor-key melodies; this takes a cue from, and fits credibly alongside, the work of more contemporary laptop-techno producers such as Montreal's Akufen. Later, "Electro Kardiogramm" mimics a heartbeat in its rhythm and maintains an unwavering groove. Both songs have a soulful side that isn't often found in the machines used to make them.
While casual electronica aficionados may find this release, at its best, merely innocuous, hard-core fans familiar with Kraftwerk's place in history will be disappointed that the band didn't prepare better for this race.