Upon the release of their first album † in 2007, French duo Justice broke a sad tradition that many other electro/house musicians had started years earlier – they released an album that was actually good and not just pop filler compared to their acclaimed live set. Now, four years later, Justice makes their long anticipated return with their sophomore album Audio, Video, Disco.
One half of the group, Xavier de Rosnay recently said that he wanted to make the music lighter and less aggressive than its predecessor. In that sense the group succeeded, as the new album features drastically less distorted guitars, and a much less intense overall feel. Another new exploration is the duo’s desire to work with other artists. Audio… contains significantly more vocal contributions, from artists like U.K. singer Ali Love, which were nearly nonexistent on their debut. And while the group certainly achieved what they wanted with the new sound, it isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Audio, Video, Disco starts off promisingly with “Horsepower,” The crunchy guitars are reminiscent of † highlights, but seem to fade into a more arena rock style that sounds something like early ’80s demi-gods Journey, which stays prevalent throughout the track. Several of the tracks such as ”Civilization” and “New Lands” are the worst offenders and feature high pitched guest vocals that end up sounding more like mega indie-pop act MGMT than some might be comfortable with.
There is however hope on the horizon; as tracks like “Brainvision” and “Helix” are what save the album. The latter is a club-ready, distorted, disco-house track that reminisces on why fans fell in love with Justice in the first place. With heavy keys and bouncy drums, listeners can hear that the duo has not forgotten how to make these trademark hits, but just chose to branch out in content.
By no means is Audio, Video, Disco a bad album. However, many may be disappointed as the band heads further into a lighter and poppier direction. These Frenchmen will surely always put great effort into their work and release something they are proud of, but if they keep trying to change the style that put them where they are, they run the risk of losing older fans.