Friday, 4 November 2011

Album Review: Justice - Audio, Video, Disco

Back in 2007, French duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay unleashed their debut album , giving freshers week a new anthem with 'D.A.N.C.E', making dancefloors tremble under the colossal buzzing bassline of 'Waters of Nazareth' and providing the perfect soundtrack should a zombie apocalypse ever arise with 'Stress'.

What's the logical progression for album two then? '70s prog-rock and '80s hair-metal, of course! Indeed, Audio, Video, Disco compounds Justice's predilection for distorted disco with the classic rock of yore, and it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Opener 'Horsepower' is suitably bombastic, with squealing finger-tapped synthesised guitars and a motorbike-engine rumble of a riff. 'Ohio' marks the point where things get decidedly proggy with dreamy vocal harmonies, a laid-back funky vibe, and grown men singing "Ride on!". That's all before a squelching synth line that the Beastie Boys would be proud of crashes the party. 'Canon (Primo)' is a hilariously medieval pastoral intro to its bigger brother, an electro-metal behemoth which indulges midway in an arpeggiated solo as silly as it is brilliant.

Justice - Canon by FranklinP

From thereon out, Audio, Video, Disco is a poppier affair, lighter in tone than . 'On'n'on's laid-back groove gives way to an epic final minute, but for the main part remains a strongly-constructed slice of funky pop, whilst the AC/DC-aping riff of 'Newlands' achieves a glam-rock swagger with its layering of classic guitar and throbbing synths. It's relentlessy catchy, if unlike anything Justice have done before, especially during its peak as a chugging lick provides the platform for a feel-good '80s stadium-rock solo. Just when it seems 'Parade' is about to drop something heavy with its stomping 'We Will Rock You' beat, it gives way to an anthemic lighters-in-the-air refrain; pleasant, if not what you might be expecting.

Justice - Newlands by FranklinP

To get the most from Audio, Video, Disco, listeners have to be willing to indulge in its sillier impulses. It's certainly not as 'cool' an album as was, and not everyone will love this new Led Zeppelin-trapped-in-a-videogame direction, but for the most part Justice keep things on just the right side of ridiculous. And that includes Gaspard's handlebar 'tache.

Originally published in edited form in The Courier.