Although Autobahn was a left-field masterpiece, Trans-Europe Express is often cited as perhaps the archetypal (and most accessible) Kraftwerk album. Melodic themes are repeated often and occasionally interwoven over deliberate, chugging beats, sometimes with manipulated vocals; the effect is mechanical yet hypnotic.
The Man-Machine is closer to the sound and style that would define early new wave electro-pop – less minimalistic in its arrangements and more complex and danceable in its underlying rhythms. Like its predecessor, Trans-Europe Express, there is the feel of a divided concept album, with some songs devoted to science fiction-esque links between humans and technology, often with electronically processed vocals ("The Robots," "Spacelab," and the title track); others take the glamour of urbanization as their subject ("Neon Lights" and "Metropolis"). Plus, there's "The Model," a character sketch that falls under the latter category but takes a more cynical view of the title character's glamorous lifestyle. More pop-oriented than any of their previous work, the sound of The Man-Machine – in particular among Kraftwerk's oeuvre – had a tremendous impact on the cold, robotic synth pop of artists like Gary Numan, as well as Britain's later new romantic movement.
The last great Kraftwerk album, Computer World (Computerwelt) captured the band right at the moment when its pioneering approach fully broke through in popular music, thanks to the rise of synth pop, hip-hop, and electro. As Arthur Baker sampled "Trans-Europe Express" for "Planet Rock" and disciples like Depeche Mode, OMD, and Gary Numan scored major hits, Computer World demonstrated that the old masters still had some last tricks up their collective sleeves. Compared to earlier albums, it fell readily in line with The Man-Machine, eschewing side-long efforts but with even more of an emphasis on shorter tracks mixed with longer but not epic compositions.
By the early '90s, it was quite apparent just how far-reaching Kraftwerk's influence had been. From techno to hip-hop to industrial music to house, numerous others were undeniably indebted to the group. Dance clubs had long been a key part of Kraftwerk's following, and the dance market was the obvious target of The Mix – a collection of highly enjoyable, often clever remixes. While novices would do better to start out with Trans-Europe Express or The Man-Machine, hardcore Kraftwerk followers shouldn't pass up these remixes of such classics as "Trans-Europe Express," "The Robots," "Autobahn," and "Radioactivity." One could nitpick about the absence of "Neon Lights" and "Europe Endless," but the bottom line is that this CD was a welcome addition to the Kraftwerk catalog.