Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Justice "+" (2007)

Retreating to their underground post-nuclear shelter/studio, exiting only on weekends to shatter clubbers' eardrums, Gaspard and Xavier have been working on their first album as if their lives depended on it. The result has exceeded all expectations, a wonderful twelve track album which opens with 'Genesis,' a dark baroque beginning that introduces a mind-fuck of an album that proves that Justice's unique talent is to be found where least expected. Take for example 'Let There Be Light' and its strident angry electro driven by a jabbing bassline, 'D.A.N.C.E,' a pure piece of vicious house sang innocently by a choir of children, 'Newjack' a funky parody of the opulent times of the French Touch. 'Phantom I' that takes over where 'Waters of Nazareth' left off to drift towards 'Phantom II' and its head-swirling disco violins. 'Valentine,' an erotic melancholic nursery rhyme, like a tribute to Vladimir Cosma and 'Tthhee Ppaarrttyy' a pure electro funk track where the sexy Uffie plays more than ever the cheeky Lolita. 'DVNO,' a lesson to anyone trying to fuse electro with rock. 'Stress,' a hectic race that would drive the Chemical Brothers insane with jealousy. Or the finale, 'One Minute to Midnight,' a parallel to the 'Genesis' opening, which closes the album beautifully. As children of the French Touch, Justice are throwing the established rules out the window (the notion of good and bad taste, the thin line between underground and pop music, the pigeon hole labelling between rock and electro, etc?) and have a fantastic talent for synthesising and mixing their influences with total candour, be it the cosmic disco of Larry Levan or Vladimir Cosma's panty wetting romantics, Camel's prog rock or the anxious theme of The Goblins for Dario Argento, the flashy funk of the Brothers Johnson or ABC by the Jackson 5, in a very personal and inimitable manner. Its evocative strength and striking power commands respect. It comes as no surprise that Cross, the first album by Justice, is a fantastic treat for the ears and for the feet. A kind of musical opera marked with religious and baroque symbols, where the melodies are ripped to shreds by the beats, where electro teaches rock a lesson and where pop gets a botox injection. Rarely in the history of French house music has a first album lived up so well to expectancies. But the best thing about this great Justice swindle is that not only did they manage to create an immediately recognisable sound, they also dodged the pitfalls of the first album. Cross isn't a collection of random dancefloor singles. Cross doesn't accumulate 12 noisy offsprings of 'Waters of Nazareth.' Cross is never what is expected. Cross is like an album of compartments where the tracks spill over into others, like when the bass from 'D.A.N.C.E' comes to die out on 'Phantom II.' Cross is for listening at home or in clubs. Cross is a link between pop at it's purest and experimental music. Cross brings together hardcore elements and cheese. Cross makes the Goths link arms with the fluo kids... Thus be it. A generational manifest, ideally positioned on the side of the dancefloor, Cross, insolent with youth, is a testimony that the French electro scene is healthier than ever. Justice first.



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