Seductive-by-default French accents. Long locks of presumably unwashed hair. Matching black leather jackets. One majestic mustache. The Justice duo may appear exactly the same, but their sophomore album has an entirely unexpected sound.

Justice

Audio, Video, Disco
Ed Banger


Four years since they released the much-adored and danced-to , electronic bad boys Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have eliminated their signature distorted sound. In their latest album Audio, Video, Disco, they seem to have traveled back to the days of inflated hairdos and wind-breaking bell-bottoms of the ’70s.

The two albums are night and day — just ask de Rosnay. In an interview with Art of Noize, he explains, “Music has been portrayed for a long time as being music for the night and for the city and we made the new record thinking about daytime and the countryside.” But a complete listen to Audio, Video, Disco begs the question, what kind of countrysides has Justice been hanging around in? De Rosnay and Augé aimed for a more “laid back” sound, which Justice apparently interprets as stadium rock.

Audio, Video, Disco begins with “Horsepower,” which involves metallic pounding noises that evoke a feeling of intimidation similar to the first song off , “Genesis.” But the track only terrifies for the first 20 seconds. A melody chimes in with a cheese factor found in rock anthems of decades past. The song picks up after a few minutes, but it doesn’t seem to incite the expected irresistible need to dance — strange considering Justice is so often associated with the dance genre.

“Horsepower,” and much of the rest of the album, seems less appropriate for a crowd full of manic concertgoers and better suited for fist-pumping sports fans revving up for the big game. This arena anthem quality is undeniable, particularly in “Parade,” which starts off with the a rousing stomp-stomp-clap almost identical to “We Will Rock You” — and that’s the most memorable part of the song.

But fear not: Audio, Video, Disco isn’t completely overshadowed by its vintage rock overtones. One of the most original songs, “Ohio,” has a trancelike coolness that could convince even the most diehard University fan to suspend any prejudice against the track’s title. It features the Midnight Juggernauts’ Vincent Vendetta, who sings about three states and not much else. The lyrics are pretty irrelevant, which allows the focus to be directed to the refined, airy quality of Vendetta’s croon. An easygoing beat enters after a minute and eventually everything pauses, making way for a familiar but not stale electric guitar solo.

So where, then, amidst all of the unexpected homage to classic rock‘n’roll of Audio, Video, Disco, is the “disco” component? Its most obvious location may be found halfway through the album in the track “On’n’On.” The song features Diamond Nights’ Morgan Phalen, who flaunts an effortless delivery of lyrics while boogieing up and down vocal ranges. The chorus involves Phalen’s drawn-out “oooooooooon” (as in, “On’n’On”), backed by a funk-inspired electronic melody.

But the presence of disco — or the dance genre in general for that matter — is mostly absent from Audio, Video, Disco. Maybe some aspects of de Rosnay’s “countryside” are present in the album after all, in that it’s a mostly flat and monotonous landscape. Perhaps the boys need a return to the city mindset to remind them of the gritty but ultimately fun creations they’re capable of producing.

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