Album Review: Justice – Woman (Ed Banger Records and Because Music, 2016)

justice

Lewis Sloan​, Contributor

French electronic duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay (known collectively as Justice) received international acclaim with their 2007 hit single “D.A.N.C.E”, which showcased their unique blend of disco funk and electro dance. After a five year hiatus, the duo is back with their highly anticipated third studio album Woman.

Upon first listen, Justice’s distinctive sound is unmistakable. The album begins how it means to go on with the space-like synths of its opener “Safe and Sound”. The stark musical production of its opening few seconds is contrasted with rich, layered female vocals. These melodic choruses are present throughout more than half the songs on the ten track collection and compliment the bass heavy and at times psychedelic instrumental. By the time the second track “Pleasure” begins, it is clear that the sound here is at once futuristic and out-of-this-world and deeply reminiscing of 70s and 80s mainstream disco (comparisons between the duo and Daft Punk have been noted by 5 numerous critics since their debut). This distinct blend works particularly well in stand-out track “Stop”, an uplifting and fun track with a catchy chorus.

Since their last full-length release however, mainstream pop artists have caught on to the appeal of funk to commercial audiences and as such the guitar riffs of tracks like “Fire” wouldn’t sound out of place in albums by Pharrell Williams or Bruno Mars. That’s not to say that Woman is a particularly radio-friendly record. Listeners who aren’t previous fans of Nu-Disco may find the repetitive riffs in instrumental tracks like “Alakazam! And Heavy Metal” relentless and tiresome. Some tracks could have perhaps been shortened by a minute or two for accessibility purposes (and it appears Ed Banger records agreed, with the radio six and a half minute “Randy” been cut more than half for it’s official radio edit).

That said, quantity and quality work hand-in-hand here for the majority of tracks on this album, with Woman being a cohesive electronic record that, while not necessarily breaking new ground musically for the duo, certainly solidifies their place at the forefront of the French electronic music scene and beyond.

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