At last, there is Justice in the world, just not on the dancefloor
Let’s be clear: NME is loving Justice’s work. The totemic remixes of Simian and Franz; seismic recent single ‘Phantom l’; the ‘Waters Of Nazareth’ EP –collectively they’re some of the most sonically exciting and spiritually punk rock things to have happened in dance music in years.
However, the key phrase there is “dance music”, a genre with a specific primary function: making people dance, and a well-established delivery system: the 12-inch single. Why are Justice buggering about with an album?
‘†’ is not a bad record. Its best tracks, such as ‘Phantom l’ and its disco-fied coda ‘Phantom II’, or grave five-tonne-of-funk opener ‘Genesis’, bristle with the Parisians’ exhilarating trademarks: fuzzy distortion, hard, tight edits, churning, elasticated bass, thunder beats, yet all sound fresh and different. Nonetheless, these hulking great grooves will always sound best in a club.
Conversely, when Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé reach beyond that apocalyptic sound, to bring some essential variety (and songs) to proceedings, it all goes a bit, well, bland. ‘Valentine’ is a trite doodle, as is ‘The Party’, fronted by try-hard Uffie. ‘DANCE’, meanwhile, is sonic Marmite. With its choir of school kids making like the Jackson 5, it’ll be a genuine crossover hit. But it is also hugely irritating. Give it six weeks and you’ll be launching your stereo through the window when it comes on Radio 1.
Justice? Talent to spare, but that doesn’t stop ‘†’ being just another frustrating dance music album.