Zombie Politics

I drank your milkshake.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Justice for All

Record Review – Justice,

As I mentioned earlier, I’m totally gay for Ed Banger Records, the bleeding-edge French dance label that is filled to the brim with insanely talented deejays, producers, and performers. And, in particular, I’m totally gay for Justice; the duo behind some of the best singles and remixes of the past couple of years (their Mystery Jets remix made you almost think the Mystery Jets were worth listening to). I’ve finally been able to hear their first full-length, , and it is a total masterpiece. I mean that. It’s fucking unbelievable. And my previous gay-Justice-love did nothing to dull the impact of this thing.

First and foremost, this is more or less a straight up pop record. If you start your career remixing a song for Britney Spears and Madonna, then I think your place in the pop pantheon is pretty much assured. But the absolute pop music joy that spills out of this thing is infectious – handclaps, synths, guest vocalists, sing-alongs, the list goes on and on and on. It’s simultaneously cinematic and schoolyard. Opening track “Genesis” sets the mood, a booming introduction that, once the pomp and circumstance is over, bounces very, very hard. “D.A.N.C.E.,” with its insanely infectious and clever lyrics, is going to be the next “One More Time.” It’ll be played in the clubs, on the radio, etc. etc. – a transgressive dance-pop tune that grandmothers and grandsons will dance to together. And I mention Daft Punk because this is very much influenced by those outer space robots, and not the disco-era Discovery Daft Punk but the crunchy, meddlesome Human After All Daft Punk, all post-millennial chaos and messiness. What’s really amazing is that even when they’re making a lousy album, Daft Punk manages to shape the face of pop music.

The gloom and doom of Human After All can definitely be felt, but there’s an uplifting quality to the music that cannot be denied. (One paragraph up, I call it a pop record – still with me?) The thunderous storm clouds of “Let There Be Light” gives way to a futuristic, utopian glitter-field by song’s end; “New Jack” sounds like an old school beat box anthem; the Dario Argento movie-sampling “Phantom” may be sort of scary but that’s part of the joke, by “Phantom, Part II,” it’s become a spooky party jam – like 2010’s “Thriller;” “Valentine” is a charming, under-three-minute-trifle; and “Stress” is, literally, Fantasia on crack. Literally. Just wait. Just you fucking wait.

There’s two songs I want to talk about the most: “The Party,” which features vocals by fellow Ed Banger Uffie. Uffie is an incredibly young French girl who writes incredibly vulgar raps. This sounds like some cheeky gimmick, I know, but her rhymes and beats (provided by boyfriend/fellow Ed Banger Feadz) easily surpass Lady Sovereign in hummability and cleverness. On “The Party,” she gives her laid back verse against Three 6 Mafia samples (let’s all agree: amazing) and synths that wouldn’t sound out of place at Communicore in EPCOT Center, circa 1981. The song is EXCELLENT, a sure-fire mix tape/DJ session staple for the summer of 2007, and proof of the awesome power Justice could yield as a Richard X-style pop production force. Further proof: the next song, “DVNO,” featuring vocals by Mehdi Pinson, singer for other Ed Banger alums Scenario Rock. Justice did a fantastic remix of a Scenario Rock song and they’re returning the favor with some killer vocal work in a song that is unstoppable. My two main criteria for appreciating music is if it can make me either jump around or sing along, and when both can happen I’m transported to a blissful land of pure happiness (part of the reason I pledge allegiance to the Jaxx). “DVNO” is one of those songs. It’s so cool. I’m not sure what the song is about, except that DVNO is printed in capitol letters (in gold, no less). I’ll get back to you on that one. These two songs just exhibit such assurance and talent in the production department that the next Justice full length, which will undoubtedly be stock piled with vocals from people they’ve wooed or worked with, will be an even greater steam-powered juggernaut of pop awesomeness.

The album ends with a couple of the earlier, nastier singles, “Waters of Nazareth” and “One Minute to Midnight.” And while these are fairly gnarly electronic pretzels (slightly reworked from their original form, which the duo always insisted were “demos”), they are also a bit of a mood killer. The mix of the apocalyptic and jovial had such an even balance on the album up until this point; to throw it away for sheer defeatism is definitely the letdown I make it out to be. But still, the songs are nowhere near bad. They are, in fact, ingenious. And like everything else on the album, you don’t know whether to sit in amazement or shake your moneymaker.


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