Since their explosive, game-changing debut in 2007, French electro-cuties Justice have single-handedly changed electronic dance music with a distorted retelling of modern disco, paired with simply confounding religious imagery. You would be hard-pressed to find a dance producer who doesn’t bite some aspect of their cerebral, stutter-cutting style, but those who truly rival them in attitude and execution are few and far between. Needless to say, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay really raised the pulpit for themselves with their debut album, †, inevitably begging the question, how will they follow such an immaculate conception? The duo returned this month with three answers: Audio, Video, Disco.
To be sure, the album’s title is somewhat of a misnomer, as the last of these three choices seems to have been traded out for ‘70s-laden stadium rock sensibilities. Instead of aggressive beats and epileptic samples flying in from all directions, they pen steadily rising rock ballads led along by guitar arpeggios and bit-crushing synths, with heavy emphasis on the chorus — both in terms of song structure and effects. Their use of guest vocalists on tracks like “Civilization” (ft. Ali Love), “Canon” (Vincent Vendetta), and “On n’ On” (Morgan Phalen) is the deciding factor here that permits Justice to explore new songwriting territory while still flexing their big-club production muscles. Even the album’s secret title track would not be the same without it’s weird synthetic voice, which repeats “audio, video, disco” like a mantra on top of hammering low-end pianos and percussion so huge it may cause you to involuntarily start running in place. Ultimately, Justice’s sophomore album adds up to a sometimes stoney, often triumphant, fist-raising experience that I can’t wait to hear recreated onstage and out on the town. Let’s hope these tracks get the club play they deserve.