The day will soon come, if it hasn't already, that Trans-Europe Express joins the ranks of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Exile on Main St. as a record that simply cannot be written about. Like those two, Kraftwerk’s masterpiece not only represents a high point of its era—delivering on pop promises years in the making and establishing a voice theretofore unheard—but contributes to an archetype informing almost anything released afterwards. It quickly became impossible to ignore what the German quartet had accomplished, in both artistic and technical terms. That its breakthroughs actually managed to filter into the popular music arena relatively quickly was a rare bonus.
Twenty-seven years later, we’re given the task of explaining what’s so great about a record that, by most accounts, is not only a primary color for pop producers and electronic musicians, but somehow still seems ahead of the curve. When in doubt, fall back on the music: The cold, sleek synth textures, and disaffected vocals might seem robotic (and of course, Kraftwerk nurtured that image), but they are also perfect realizations of the same minimal, streamlined tension that colored punk and new-wave. The spacious motorik of “Europe Endless” and stark, industrial funk of “Metal on Metal” both reveal a band perfectly at home in the 21st century decades before it began, and serve notice to anyone within earshot that the Digital Age was upon us. And it would be fantastic. –Dominique Leone / Pitchfork.com