Morrow vs. Hajduch: Justice’s Audio, Video, Disco

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Justice: Audio, Video, DiscoJustice: Audio, Video, Disco (Ed Banger, 10/25/11)

Hajduch: When Justice emerged in 2007 with , it signaled the logical end of Daft Punk‘s arena-house takeover. Chunky Ratatat riffs and absurdly compressed samples, all blown out as loud as possible — it was a tacky 4/4 onslaught that just made absolute sense. Justice was a “rock band” inasmuch as it was loud and had black leather jackets (and maybe lip-synched?) and made dance music that was very clearly informed by the trashier end of the rock-and-roll spectrum.

So now it’s 2011 and the sophomore release is out. For the talk about it being more baroque/prog/(insert term of choice denoting “wanky” here), it doesn’t sound like much else but another Justice album. Every song sounds at least a little bit like Night on Bald Mountain, and everything is loud. Also, “Ohio” pretty clearly samples the throb from NIN‘s “Closer,” which is a really good choice.

Morrow: I like the Fantasia / Modest Mussorgsky association, but I think that those baroque elements are more pronounced. “Horsepower” puts the classical influence front and center, basically from the start of the disc, “Ohio” uses harpsichord flourishes, and “Canon” sounds like, well, the type of composition for which it’s named.

Of course, you’re right that the whole thing still sounds like Justice with its French electro sound and disco bits. But I would echo that it sounds less like future-ized funk and party jams and more like Johann Sebastian Bach writing simplified dance-floor burners (for fame and women, of course).

Hajduch: I like the cut of your jib, sir. Over the course of the album, Justice exhausts all the gimmicks and tricks and melodies to which their fans have grown accustomed. I was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed the listen; was great, but over the years I became a lot less excited for a follow-up. In fact, I don’t know if I would have checked this one out if it weren’t for our column.

Tracks like “Newlands” are a welcome surprise, especially the driving arena-Kraut bridge. Justice’s combination of ’70s indulgence with millennial anthemic stomp works perfectly here. It’s particularly striking against the opening of “Helix,” which is about as “classic Justice” as the album gets, chopping vocals atop four-chord drama.

Morrow: I was going to mention “Newlands” and its synthesized-classic-rock vibe. The track has a total AC/DC or The Who-style intro, and it almost — almost — goes prog at the end of the bridge. But the song scales it back to return to the ’80s pop elements that supplement the old-school rock riffs.

As for the wait, yeah — it’s been four years. The first album feels like it was so hyped, and “D.A.N.C.E.” was all over the place — yet the charts don’t really reflect that. But either way, Justice is the Daft Punk of this generation; it’s only a matter of time before sales reflect that more. And Audio, Video, Disco gives people a reason not to write off the duo as a one-trick pony.

Hajduch: Sure, but isn’t Daft Punk the Daft Punk of this generation?

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