It seems an eternity since Justice arrived on the dance floor with an experimental remix of Simian’s Never Be Alone under their tight leather jackets. That was three years ago, which in the industry, goes by like doggy years.
A flurry of remixes and the monumental electro anthem Waters of Nazareth followed, before a re-release of We Are You Friends finally convinced Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Auge to quit their graphic designer jobs and turn a bedroom pastime into a full time job.
Perhaps the biggest pressure on them was to produce an album’s worth of their own material, as many a frustrated Justice fan can testify. So here it is, fatefully released the same day as the debut album of Simian Mobile Disco, whose own ascent has mirrored Rosnay and Auge’s.
On the first few listens the album surprisingly drifts you by. One quarter of it people have already heard on EPs and the material beyond this doesn’t grab you by the collar in the same way SMD’s album does.
Give the album a bit more time and it does open up wonderfully. Genesis washes Rosnay and Auge’s now famed distortion heavy sound with funky hooks and 80s era NYC beats. Current single DANCE melds disco with a London Children’s choir. It’s insanely catchy and could be this summer’s We Are Your Friends. Not bad for a song written as a tribute to Michael Jackson.
New Jack finds Justice with their production hats on, fleshing and meshing cuts of Miami house, funk and fuzzy electro. The apocalyptic Phantom medley returns broken down into two tracks and is just a hint of how brazen it sounds on the dance floor. The Valentine is an unexpected gem, sheltering under a synth driven melody that breaks up the album’s preceding fuzz heavy tracks.
Label mate Uffie provides her lolita vocals for The Party, another synth number which despite Rosnay and Auge’s sentiments that it ‘perverts’ Uffie but ‘nicely’, come across awkwardly.
Stress picks things up again with leanings towards Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, it pairs shrilling string arrangements with throbbing bass lines and disco, fading to a guitar pluck before dive bombing into a cleaned up and fresher Waters of Nazareth. One Minute to Midnight clocks out with almost a smirk like nod to Daft Punk.
It sums up an album where Justice wear their influences so flagrantly. Rosnay and Auge openly admit they’re no producers and have minimal knowledge of sound engineering. It tells in some respects, though in others they’ve produced some remarkable work. It stops short of SMD’s effort by quite a way, but it’s a fine and much welcome showing for a pair of self-professed amateurs.