on October 27, 2011
Here's the thing....
A.) If you bought Cross, loved it, and are expecting the exact same album (i.e. some really awesome, but super-heavy slammin' electro) then there's a really good chance you're going to be disappointed.
B.) If however you generally like Justice's sound, and can expand that past the strict definition of the first album, then you're going to like this.
C.) If you're a "B" and you also happen to like classic prog-rock like Yes, Asia, and Rush. Then prepare to totally absolutely love this album more than life itself.
Me, I am somewhere betwixt B+C. So while I would have loved a Cross "2.0" I still really, really dig this album.
Whereas Cross was an in your face mesh of classic Parisian house and heavy electro, this album is more of an homage to classic progressive rock. Which makes this a little bit more heady on the conceptual level. The "problem" with that is that you end up with a mix of songs that you can't exactly dance to...from a group that got big on the dance floor. And while I like to dance to Justice, I also just like to listen to them.
So if you really like good interesting music the latest offering from Justice will totally float your boat.
Best tracks to check out are in my opinion Helix, Civilization, On'n'On. For a taste of what I mean by prog-rock homage check out "Parade".
on October 26, 2011
It's been four years since the French electronic duo Justice delivered their masterpiece, Cross, and today they're back with their highly anticipated follow-up, Audio, Video, Disco. The lead single from the album, "Civilization" was classic Justice, with a pounding beat and a theatrical epicness that one would expect from Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay. Since "Civilization" debuted, though, snippets of other songs have leaked to mixed reactions. Now, with today's release of the full album, I'll go track by track to see just how Audio, Video, Disco stacks up to Justice's other work.
1. "Horsepower": It starts out nice, with a growling guitar much like that on "Civilization", the song it proceeds. Along with some brighter synth portions as well as some darker strings, it's a good way to kick off the album. The song's good, but it acts as a prelude to Civilization and doesn't stand out on its own quite enough.
2. "Civilization": You've all heard this one before, but it bears repeating that "Civilization" is just a damn good anthem. The guitars erupt and scream on the track, and the whole thing has a brilliant grinding tension in the first minute of the song that ends up in an electronic explosion, with a heavy beat kicking in and sending this song into outer space. This one's better than a good number of songs on Cross, and will definitely be spinning at clubs for years to come.
3. "Ohio": ...the can't be all great, though, right? It's really the lyrics that mess up the song. Repeating "Ohio, Tennessee, California, Endlessly...right on" over and over again, just what are they trying to say? I know electronic music isn't exactly known for having lyrical depth, but the lyrics just feel so disjointed from the song underneath. And that's a shame, because the instrumental part of the song is quite nice, something that you can enjoy in the (mostly) lyricless last minute of the song.
4. "Canon - Primo": Just a little harpsichord-ish intro to the proper "Canon"
5. "Canon": This one reminds me a little bit of Daft Punk's "Robot Rock" with its heavy guitar riff (something that seems to be a trend on this album). The song has a real drive to it, with synths, guitars and thunderous drums fighting for sonic space throughout the track.
6. "On'n'On": The singing on the track sounds like some long lost vocal from a forgotten 70s vocalist, combined with a strings happy Justice dropping something a lot more melodic than the previous tracks behind it. It works really well, and is probably one of the most newcomer-friendly tracks Justice has done so far. It also ends with a huge outro that glides seamlessly into the next track...
7. "Brianvision": Not a whole lot going on in this track. It's not that it's bad or anything, but it's also not good. Seeing that "Canon" and "On'n'On" really delivered the goods previously, this song can be forgiven for being a bit of a lull.
8. "Parade": I'm really getting a Queen vibe from this album as I get deeper into it. Aping the stomps and hand-claps from "We Will Rock You" as they do on this track, I'm guessing it was intentional. The song also includes some welcome weirdness, with the audio inexplicably dropping out for a couple of seconds right before the end and a glitchy, staccato intro, but the middle feels a little limp, like it's trying to get by on the Queen vibe they set the song up with.
9. "New Lands": This one starts off sort of uninteresting, without a whole lot going on at first other than a falsetto vocal on top of what sounds like an alternate take of "Civilization", but at around the 2:30 mark, the song shifts gears and starts accelerating on its own and really working by the time it's done.
10. "Helix": The chopped up vocal snippets on this are nice, giving the song a vocal punch without dominating the song. But the guitar that does dominate the song sort of sounds like a variation on the same riff that has been pervading the rest of the songs. The riff itself is good enough on its own, but I feel like Justice is leaning on it way too hard, especially at this point, ten tracks in. Even though the song does another gear change toward the end, it just doesn't deliver
11. "Audio, Video, Disco": The harpsichord from "Canon-Primo" returns here on the final track to lead us into a chaotic, heady, bass drum heavy send-off in the final track on the album. All that chaos burns off by the end of the song, but I'm not sure if it's the best way to go. I would have liked for Audio, Video, Disco to spend its last few minutes really blowing the windows off, but it doesn't. It instead chooses to ease into something quieter and quieter until it's just done. Maybe if there had been some more real bangers on this album it would have been a welcome come down, but as it stands, it's more disappointing than relaxing.
So, there we go, all eleven tracks laid out on the examination table. The only songs that I had a major aversion to were "Ohio" and "Brianvision", just because they seemed so lazy and uninspired. The other songs, even though most of them had parts that didn't deliver, at least had some portion that redeemed them enough to warrant a second listen.
As for my impressions of the album as a whole, I think it marks a change in Justice's overall feel, and it might have been designed to deliver a hard kick against the people who expected them to deliver another Cross. It's not Cross, far from it, and right now I don't think it's as good as Cross, but it does stand on its own as a strong album that has the potential to grow as you listen to it more. I think a lot of Cross fans won't be happy with Audio, Video, Disco, but I think as the years wear on, and Justice hopefully takes less than four year between each release, this could fit in well as we watch Justice evolve from house DJs with massive beats to maybe something more refined and subtle.
The album is for the most part a three star work, but there are moments here, of great brilliance, that add the extra star for me. A lot of people will be disappointed that they're not just re-hashing Cross, but I'm happy they're not
on October 24, 2011
I'm going to try and keep this short. I love 'DVNO' and 'Genesis' from 'Cross', so I was looking forward to edgy/funky tracks like that on 'Audio, Video, Disco' (A.V.D.). To be honest, there aren't any tracks that remind me much of 'DVNO' or 'D.A.N.C.E.', but there are some great songs nonetheless.
I'd describe the overall sound of A.V.D. as more spacey/'Arena Rock' in its sounds. It strikes me as more cerebral and a bit less dance-oriented than the last album. Just like 'Cross', it's a great album to put on and let roll because there isn't a bad song on it.
My three favorite tracks thus far: 1) Helix; 2) Canon; 3) On'n'On.
My advice: If you liked everything on 'Cross', buy this album. If you only liked 'DVNO' and 'D.A.N.C.E.', you might be a little dissatisfied with the shortage of danceable tunes on A.V.D.
on October 27, 2011
Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé, the Parisian pair that make up Justice, took the world by storm with their 2007 debut record, "Cross." Drawing instant comparisons to the likes of Daft Punk, another electronic dance duo, Justice quickly began selling out arenas and headlining festivals with their heavy hitting beats and instantly catchy hooks.
On "Audio, Video, Disco," Justice expands upon their successful debut with more elements of rock and roll including songs driven by power chords and electric guitar solos. That is not to say Justice has strayed away from the electronic dance tunes that gave them an audience; far from it. "Audio, Video, Disco" is still a dance album likely to receive a heavy rotation in clubs around the world, but Justice's sound is more progressive than before and they're formulating a more unique identity for themselves as their sound evolves.
For the first minute of the opening track, "Horsepower," it sounds as though the song could fit just as easily on a Dream Theater record.
Harmonized guitars playing arpeggios, drum fills on the third and fourth beats of every measure, and only hints of a synthesized loop in the distance. The track continues to build rapidly, however, filling the listener with anticipation until an abrupt fade out followed by the Justice entrance everyone was expecting.
"Horsepower" eventually blossoms into one of the most familiar sounding Justice tracks on the entire record. A kick drum pounds the ears on every beat, synthesizer chords filter in and out, and the guitar work that sounded like a progressive rock intro in the beginning quickly blends right in with the rest of this powerful instrumental. If there's one track on this album destined for another commercial spot, it's this one.
The biggest hit to come from "Cross" was "D.A.N.C.E." thanks, in part, to an incredibly infectious vocal part. Like their debut, "Audio, Video, Disco" once again calls on the occasional guest vocal to really get the crowd moving. "Civilization" leans heavily on British singer Ali Love to carry the melody and although the track is repetitive, the addition of Love's voice makes the recording one of the most memorable of the entire record.
Although the more balanced blend of electronica and rock and roll sets Justice apart from many other electronic groups and DJs, there are still certain elements of their rock side that feel less original. The guitar work on "Newlands" is exceptionally reminiscent of much of AC/DC's catalog and the "We Will Rock You" style stomps and claps of "Parade" are not even trying to hide their similarities to Queen, but the end result is still enjoyable and proof that Justice has plenty left in store for the world.
Similar Artists: Daft Punk, Deadmau5
Track Suggestion: "Horsepower"
on November 14, 2011
Rather than writing a marathon review, I'll keep it short and sweet. AVD is NOT Cross, it shouldn't be Cross, and most of us pretty much knew it wouldn't beat the masterpiece Cross. With that being said, AVD is still a solid release that showcases Justice's talents in EDM. While the style is somewhat different from their earlier stuff, the overall motif is still most definitely Justice. If you are a fan of prog rock, you might dig this more than the average EDM junkie. Being a casual fan of prog rock myself, I did enjoy the tribute. Could it have been better? Sure. Like Daft Punk's Human After All, I'm sure people will warm up to this more once they hear it played live.
Best tracks: Horsepower, Civilization, Canon.
on November 12, 2011
Being that their last album was filled with absolutely amazing songs and some filler, I was happily surprised that this album sounded more like a true album. Although there isn't as many stand out songs, there also isn't as many fillers. Overall there is a theme of dance music mixed with big 70's big arena guitars which I love, although sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes the songs need to be bigger and more thematic and sometimes they need to be more dance oriented, but over it's a good merry-meant of genres. There's something to be said about 70's arena rock and Dance put together. 70's arena rock was meant to be big, loud and cocky much like some dance that is big, loud and cocky, and that's why it works so well together. Standout songs for me are Civilization, Canon, On'n'On, Parade, News Lands, Helix and the albums title track.
But...I do have to say there are some problems with this album. First off the version of Civilization on the album is by far the lesser version of the song. Look for the 4:11 version which sounds better, better mix and is longer. In the 4:11 version when song is about to cut out it comes back for one more big chorus which I love. The other big problem with this album is that it's a product of the loudness war. Most dance or electronica albums usually don't suffer from clipping and over compression and usually leave the sound intact, but some of the bigger bands of this genre tend to try to make their albums compete with popular music. If you're not familiar with the loudness war, it just means that record companies try to make the cd sound as loud as possible thinking that listeners will respond better to that. The problem with that there is a a limit of how loud an album can be on cd before it clips off the music and distorts. This will cause the album to be distorted, lose clarity, and actually make the songs sounds very small and thin at louder levels. Believe me when I say that it may be one of the reasons people will like the album less then they should. Being that this music is supposed to be big large 70s arena rock dance music it greatly suffers from sounding too compressed.
Overall there is some amazing songs on here. The sounds of retro rock with contemporary music is absolutely amazing at times and you would be doing yourselves a disfavor by not buying this album.
on February 26, 2015
I like it, it's a little cheesy and parts of it sound like 8 bit nintendo music, but it's worth a listen. I'm actually kind of happy it sounds nothing like "Cross," they were bold enough to do something different. The record is made in France, I now own something made in France that's no a razor, a lighter or stinky cheese.
on December 23, 2011
This was an awesome album in my opinion. A lot of people are saying this isn't "cross" will no duh it's not if you are looking for another cross album then listen to it again. What I think Justice is trying to do here is not repeat the same thing over and over again just like Daft Punk. They're bringing something new to the table, instead of releases eps they're more focused on an album (though albums may be dead). "The internet has made us very impatient people, and cannot enjoy an album as a whole" Gaspard
on December 26, 2011
After the adrenaline-filled house antics of "Cross", "Audio, Video, Disco" understandably ruffled a few feathers, because it's a great shift in focus. But it's a great shift. AVD (as I shall call it henceforth) has a lot more to do with 70s synth pop than French house music. If Daft Punk had gone in a different direction, I could see them making something in this genre. The title means "I Hear, I See, I Learn" and it's so fitting. This album is not in-your-face like its (awesome) forerunner, but a cracking listen that stands on its own merits.
I'll be honest, I have never been a fan of the first two tracks, "Horsepower" and "Civilization", both of whom sound anthemic and big but rarely grab me. It's first with the low-key "Ohio" that magic really begins to reveal itself. The song is simpler than even the simplest on "Cross", and is light and breezy, yet oh so captivating. Why "Canon" had to be split in two tracks is anyone's guess, but both parts are very catchy.
It's from track 6 onwards, however, when AVD really becomes a winner. "On'N'On" is one of my favourites, with a steady beat and a gripping melody that's interestingly centered on the singer. Racing from "Brianvision" all the way through the supersonic closing track is a gamut of winners. "New Lands" has a very catchy chorus and "Helix" ought to delight even the most jaded "Cross" fans.
AVD is a very brave, successful shift in tone. It doesn't try to be a "Cross: Part 2", but rather a stand-alone work that does the synth pop genre (fused with some rock tones) proud.
on January 18, 2013
Now sometimes, rock music can become a little stagnant & predicable, take Steve Harris's & The Darkness 2012 albums as a prime example
But with Justice you get a great Dance/Rock fusion, which defiantly brings a bit of freshness, to a sometimes jaded musical genre.
So what does sound like? To me (a rock music fan) I hear a bit of Air, circa their "10 000Hz Legend" album, 1980's sci-fi/action film soundtrack & a little bit of Brain May style guitar.
So if your bored with latest offering from Ozzy, but want something that's not too alien for your music tastes, you certainly could do a lot worse that Justice.
Oh, the Dance/Prog Rock analogy doesn't really work, I don't recognise any Camel or King Crimson stylings in there, maybe on their next record.