If the opening seconds of Justice's debut album, " ," don't tell you a thing about what you're in store for, you aren't listening. The mudded brass come marching in like they are coming to destroy, and in a way they are. Justice is a dance/electronica group, to be sure, but to label them as such is travesty in and of itself. Like that imperial death march, Justice is here to destroy. In this case, they have come to demolish your preconceived notions about what dance music is and what it can be. Now, until recently I have avidly campaigned against the genre which I feel is cluttered with mundane "artists" who rely on bad samples and horrendous loops to captivate a somewhat dimwitted audience. My opinion is slowly starting to change as I am introduced to artists who are challenging this perception. Justice is one of them.
From the opening track to the very last second of "," I found myself, not only captivated, but amazed, entertained, and energized. Justice comes off as a bull charging towards its victim, with so much momentum and energy that attempting to slow it down would be a fruitless endeavor. Their songs are constantly changing, never relying on a single loop or phrase for too long. And these songs are not lite, easy-listening electronica songs either. They're harsh and brash, with the mids turned up too high for comfort. It's not your average dance album, it is a revelation!
"Let There Be Light" begins with a near-unlistenable melody, but adds in drums, a thumping bassline, and so many cuts and glitches that you'll be in love with it before you know it. It concludes with an absolutely awesome composition that harmonizes synths with synths in a way that sounds like it'd be better suited for the closing credits of a Super Mario Bros. game than a dance record. "D.A.N.C.E." is one of the few songs on " " with actual vocals, and while I found them a bit childish and annoying at first, I was shocked to find the song stuck in my head hours after I first encountered. The song sounds like the Jackson 5 on methamphetamines, if only for the lyrics, "Do the D.A.N.C.E., stick to the B.E.A.T." The disco-esque strings and sing-along quality of the song make the song a sure-fire hit, which is probably why it is the album's first single.
Elsewhere on the album, there's the cut-filled "New Jack," the completely overpowering, yet satisfying "Phantom Pt. I" (and it's more audience friendly second part), and the 100% guilty pleasure "The Party." The latter features such terrible rap-lines as "Let's get drunk and freaky-fied," and if you actually find yourself liking it, then you may want to see if pigs grew wings. It's the one low point on an otherwise flawless album.
The best part about "" is the fact that it never gets boring, an attribute clearly made possible by the group's insistence on keeping the songs fresh around every corner and their refusal to use one loop or riff for any extended period of time. The quality of the songs is through the roof, and the genres touched upon in each song are too numerous to mention. While "D.A.N.C.E." is clearly your crowd-pleaser, songs like "Stress" (which envokes serious Requiem for a Dream soundtrack memories) and "Waters of Nazareth" are designed for the sole purpose of making you nod your head in approval while simultaneously scratching it, thinking "What the heck am I listening to?" " " is an achievement in electronic music that should be listened to by fans and naysayers of the genre alike. Finding a true definition for the music contained on this album is impossible, so I'll just call it this: amazing!
Recommended for fans of electronic music and anyone who wants to experience shock and awe firsthand.
1. "Let There Be Light"
3. "Phantom Pt. I"
7 out of 10 Stars