Music Reviews
Audio, Video, Disco

Justice Audio, Video, Disco

(Ed Banger Records) Rating - 8/10

If I had to use one adjective to describe the style of Justice's 2007 début Cross, that word would be “intense”. From the powerful opening of Genesis, through the likes of Let There Be Light and Phantom and to closing tracks Stress, Waters of Nazareth and One Minute to Midnight, Cross was a relentless and unforgiving journey through the darker side of electro that left little time to catch a breath.

Audio, Video, Disco, the second album from French electro duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay, is an entirely different affair and, aside from opener Horsepower, which acts as somewhat of a transition between the two albums, is altogether lighter and more accessible.

The notable change of style is a big risk for Justice. After all, a large part of the appeal of Cross was the bass-heavy, punky attitude to electro. Lose that, and what are you left with? It's a decision for any artist to make with their second album release – should we stick with a similar sound to avoid alienating and disappointing our fans, or should we push forward and prove what we're capable of? Justice have most definitely opted for the latter.

It's entirely possible, therefore, that those who were hoping for A.V.D. to be more of the same broody, intense electro found on Cross may initially be disappointed with Justice's new sound. And this disappointment can easily translate into the belief that A.V.D. is an altogether weaker album than Cross. However, this simply isn't the case. Although it may not appear like it on the surface, A.V.D. is easily as strong as Cross, and if anything is a more restrained demonstration of Justice's diverse capabilities. The length of the album is equally as reserved; lasting a little over 40 minutes, it's at that perfect length where it leaves the listener wanting more, without feeling shortchanged.

Sadly, A.V.D. isn't without its weak moments. The Tierce de Picardie at the end of Horsepower, the slow drop in pitch of the repeated final phrase in Canon and the “fade out and back in” in Parade all sound disappointingly unprofessional and out of place in tracks that are otherwise bordering on flawless. As far as individual tracks are concerned, there are no weak tracks – certainly nothing that even comes close to being as weak as Tthhee Ppaarrttyy...

What impresses me most about A.V.D. is how Justice have managed to showcase an entirely different side to their music to anything we've heard before, whilst somehow retaining their own distinctive sound. In A.V.D., Gaspard and Xavier have proven that it's still possible to produce relevant, fresh-sounding electro without the need for obscene basslines or other such gimmicks. Whilst it might not be the powerful, dark electro that some fans had been hoping for, there's no denying that the more matured Justice is pretty damn good.