French electronic duo Justice return with their third LP Woman, bringing stiff competition to fellow French duo Daft Punk. Making a name and reputation for themselves with their critically acclaimed debut Cross, Justice built themselves enormous shoes to fill. Their unique sound largely falls around an intense slap bass, choral vocals and beautifully carved soundscapes, this all being achieved on their latest release. Moreover, alongside huge hits for themselves, namely D.A.N.C.E, Justice have also amplified their reputation through remixes such as Electric Feel and iconic collaborations, such as with We Are Your Friends. Their latest album comes five years after their previous, Audio, Video, Disco and continues to deliver a juxtaposing yet reminiscent journey, that does not disappoint.
The nostalgic 1980s disco-space vibe encompassed by Justice, built upon germinating synths, clicks and a signature slap bass brings a reassuring and familiar introduction to lead track Safe And Sound, reintroducing us to the distinct sound that has been anticipated. The various layers of instrumentation and the way in which the duo shape disco infused electro songs without the traditional corniness, produces a sleek, toe tapping opener with conviction. Much the same can also be said with Fire, in which the melodically funk inspired track supports the typical formula whilst retaining a refreshingly sexy identity.
Lyrically, there is often little or no expectation for electronic music to provide poetic romanticism or motivating and inspirational quotes. Although Woman typically avoids the use of lyrics, embellishments in such are form are welcomed, especially when executed well. The silky, sultry sound of Pleasure is enhanced with fittingly appropriate lyrics, encouraging the listener to come “closer for there to be pleasure, closer forever be”, and to “use imagination as a destination.” Another fine example of this is present in Randy, a far more lyrically centred song. Opening with a drum roll and low keyed pulsing synths, Randy lures you into a false sense of security, transforming gradually into an airier revitalising track, buoyed with lyrics, ideal for both dancing and driving. Featuring vocals from previous contributor Morgan Phalen, the lead singer tells Randy, “you don’t have to suffer, step outside and find yourself a lover”, sticking thematically to the romantic struggle of the album.
The dreamy choral chamber vocals previously found on Justice albums are also present and again provides a pleasant consistency to their nu-disco style. Perfect execution of this is found in Pleasure but also, more notably in Stop. Opening with a far lighter cosmic sound, this vibe also being explicitly present in closing track Close Call, Stop gradually builds up until it reaches the peak of the infamous choral sound associated with many of Justice’s greatest songs; this allowing Stop to be a likely favourite.
And alongside having the presence of delicate riffs, far heavier, bolder statements are also present. The somewhat destructive opening of Chorus contrasts greatly with its predeceasing track, yet Chorus still retains great merit. Unlike many heavier electronic tracks that often build up to a collapse into a void, this is evaded. Instead, Justice stunningly craft their way around sounds to establish alternative transitions and movements. For example, following a long sustained, intensely pounding marathon of synth and bass, the track is reduced to a piano with increasing augmentation around the back bone, but notably with whirling ghoulish sounds, rather than heavy drum and bass.
The overall production is a step up from the last two albums, with very little to fault, Love S.O.S being a key example of their brilliant construction and arrangement. Whilst introducing songs that individually provide substance and depth to a dance playlist, the album as a whole is slick, refined and incredibly well produced, despite some individual tracks lacking in places. Naturally comparisons can be drawn to fellow French duo Daft Punks most recent attempt, albeit not that recent anymore, and they sure put up a strong fight.
Justice continue to joyfully and masterfully skill their way around different scopes and transitions in a slick and sincere manner, providing an uplifting and enticing wall of sound for both headphones and dance floors. Unlike the commonly repetitive electronic music filling clubs and charts at the moment, Justice exquisitely distinguish themselves with fantastic falsetto and chorus, without relying on a singular sound, beat or tone to progress through the album. Its safe to say that Justice have done themselves and electronic music as a genre, justice.