Justice - Audio, Video, Disco - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Justice - Audio, Video, Disco

by Sarah Allen Rating:9 Release Date:2011-10-24

"Three keyboards and one guitar"; apparently, that's all you need to make a great album today. It really is - no sarcasm in there whatsoever. This album goes against everything 'proper' music fans stand for: deep, soulful lyrics; guitar solos that make you weep; the PJ Harveys and Radioheads of this world. Real instruments - for the most part - making real music. And yet, with Audio, Video, Disco, Justice pulls its pants down to us 'deep, soulful' losers to display a beautiful moon of epic awesomeness. Audio... is a record label's wet dream, riddled with hits.

It's kind of annoying to admit that a song like 'On'n'on' (an optical illusion not to be confused with 'onion'), made through such seemingly simple methods, could sound so elaborate - and just plain hot. On first listening, the average Justice follower will notice Audio... has a much more rock feel to it than you might expect, especially when compared with hit 'D.A.N.C.E.'. Less samples, more 80s riffs. The opening track sounds like an homage to Queen; its power ballad lilt calls for some serious air-guitar action. Then it turns into a Daft Punk tribute. Both groups perfectly describe the overall sound of the album. And both would be proud.

Justice pays homage to a few other rock 'n' roll legends here, perhaps inadvertently. 'Newlands', for instance, has a bridge that sounds like it's been hijacked by Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love'. Then you've got 'Heilx', whose Bendy Bus harbours Justice's signature 'sound', along with the ghost of The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again', albeit briefly, and Mylo (Remember Destroy Rock & Roll?!) who sneaks on without a ticket thinking no-one's seen him. I've seen him. And he sounds a lot like Daft Punk. And on, and on, and on. 'Canon' may or may not include samples, but it would take a lot to convince me its maniacal 70s guitar bridge wasn't inspired by that of Brother Johnson's awesome 'Strawberry Letter 23'.

But there are some more contemporary acknowledgements squeezed into the mix, too. 'Ohio' starts off with an a capella which harks back to Simian circa 'Over the Hills'. Somehow, it becomes a pimp with a guitar. The song has some serious attitude. Ultimately, what you have in Audio... is a feel-good pop album perfect for getting ready for a night out, or hearing on the night out.

This is especially true of three standout tracks, 'Onion' being one of them (Damn it!). If only we could be as civilised as 'Civilization'. It's pop, but not as we despise it. This tune has a chorus of tricks to die on the dancefloor for, and those tricks aren't for kids. Enjoy the glow while it lasts, as it won't be long before it's used to advertise the new Ford Focus. 'Parade' is also likely to be a hit, with its opportunity for alternate foot-stomping and hand-clapping a-la 'We Will Rock You'.

'Brainvision' should only be used for running marathons - or away from knife-wielding killers; it has that we're-working-towards-an-impossible-goal-but-we're-gonna-survive energy about it. Its slightly sinister edge makes it stand out from the rest of the happy album. A great track. Finally, the only way to describe the album's namesake track is to imagine Justice got married to Air (think 'Cherry Blossom Girl') and gave birth to Goldfrapp (after Felt Mountain but before Head First). It's a great way to end the album, encompassing as much of their influences as is humanly possible without ruining a track.

To coin a new phrase, at the end of the HMV new releases shelf, Audio is better than its predecessor. There, I said it. For all of Cross' choppy - but catchy - beats, Audio... is much more self-assured and cohesive. It's not trying to be something it isn't. It's saying; "I'm funky, but I'm cool," and that's just fine.

'Funky' is definitely the new 'rock'.

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