Justice - †
Tue 10th Jul, 2007 Music Reviews 9664 viewsin
Every now and then, an album comes along that stands out from the pack as being quite special. Occasionally, you’re blessed doubly, and you get a pair of them in the space of a month. Fresh from my review of Digitalism’s Idealism, it was time to turn my attention to † – otherwise known as Cross – the debut album from France’s Justice. Only seconds in, and I sensed I was about to experience something very unique. I would ultimately be proven right.
Right from the outset, you sense you’re about to experience something quite unique. The brass-loaded imperial death march of Genesis announce that the duo of Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay have well and truly arrived. Like an epic movie, you’re about to experience something unforgettable. If dance music is looking for a revolution – then we may have just found the proletariat. This isn’t music to sing along to – it’s so much more than that. This isn’t music to simply put your hands in the air about. This is an experience. Don’t idle and let it pass you by. Engage it. Embrace it. This is the way forward.
The rapid-fire and staccato snare in Let There Be Light is a precursor to an increasingly chunky and oh-so-addictive bass line. I kid you not, but one and a half tracks in, and I was already looking forward to Parklife just that little bit more. Then, almost on cue, the kind of track that has ‘big’ written all over it; dance festival kind of big too. D.A.N.C.E. , A more appropriately named track I cannot recall, and this, apparently some kind of pseudo-tribute to Michael Jackson (apparently the lads think he’s been hard done by), has a disco sound that is not only upbeat, but ridiculously addictive. There’s a distinct pop (maybe even commercial) sound to it, but it’s welcomed, and morphs nicely into New Jack which has its own disco sound – and a stack of nicely placed cuts and glitches.
This album keeps you guessing, and you can’t help but be impressed by the dynamism; you never know what’s going to hit you next. Without warning, the disco drops, and the fat beat reigns supreme in Phantom I – and the monster beats hold with some equally massive hooks – through to its sequel (yes, sequel) in Phantom II. It’s sequel by name, and sequel by nature, and if anything, like the Hollywood classic The Godfather – Part II is even better than a damn fine original. Valentine slows things down a notch, and for a few minutes the Justice sound was sounding very much like the Daft Punk sound. Who knows – maybe it’s just all French to me. By this point, there was no mistaking that this album was working me into quite a state, and I was wondering if it was even capable of getting any better.
Enter, the unmistakable low point of the album. Thee Pparrtyyy – annoyingly spelt, annoying sounding and loaded with some pretty naff lyrics, it stands out as the black sheep. That said, I moved on as the lads picked the ball up immediately, running with it right through to the end. A quartet of absolute solid tracks kicks off with DVNO, which has a slow, grinding, almost sexy feel to it. Then again maybe that’s just me. Stress gets things a little hectic, but with its fast and frenetic pace, sounds like the ultimate driving song. Then Waters of Nazareth. Seriously folk, while it’s been around for a little while now, it sounds so good that you can’t help but think it’s illegal. The kind of song that makes you just want to completely lose your shit. If you’re open to this genre, then this must rank up the top. (And just quietly, can’t wait for that point just before three and a half minutes being dropped at Parklife.) The boys wrap it up with One Minute to Midnight – where electro reigns supreme, but the acid never far away, with synthesised guitar to boot.
And there it is kids. The disco sound, together with the big beats, ensures that while the music does sound kind of familiar, it absolutely never sounds dated. They’ve thrown in a touch of acid, a serious dash of funk, creating a sound that has loads of appeal and one that could extend to the mainstream. Time will tell on that last point, but for me, this is one of the albums of the year. Tres bien.