French dance duo has created their own realm and progressed into a formidable force.
Ian Wade 2011
Parisians Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay – aka Justice – first came to attention half a dozen years ago with their mashed-up noisy remixes for the likes of Franz Ferdinand and their re-do of Simian’s We Are Your Friends. Since then, the duo released 2007’s seminal debut †, and toured the globe with a giant cross, laying waste to every dancefloor they came close to. Now, they’re backBackBACK with the follow-up – and it seems they’ve been dosing up on the hard rock of yore.
While the duo did much with noise and distortion on their debut, Audio, Video, Disco leaps into a more hair-friendly area. Led Zeppelin are mentioned within the first sentence of the press release, and there’s a general air of double-necked guitars, dwarves dancing around monuments and fast livin’ with seafood excess – shenanigans inspired by the likes of the aforementioned Zep, as well as The Who and Blue Öyster Cult. Daft Punk touched upon this ground lightly with their Discovery set, which brought in various AOR types in from the cold. However, this is an all-balls-out affair, and a determined bid for stadium disco mental-ness.
Thrillingly, it works. Horsepower sounds like some beefed-up BBC science fiction theme of yore – possibly Hitchhiker’s Guide or Blake’s 7 – with proggy, real musician-y fills and dramatic power-chording setting out the stall for what follows. Civilisation stars Ali Love, delivering lyrics about war and devastation – it’s fairly evident that this album has less to do with their fellow disco-countryman David Guetta, and more in common with Big Themes.
Canon, prefaced by the twiddly folky-prog noodle of Canon Interlude, strafes Daft Punk-y vocoderisms with spandex-friendly chords and thrusts. On’n’On demands a Robert Plant-style lyric about loose women, and there’s even lyrics about grapes turning into wine and what sounds like a flute solo. Brianvision features some fine finger plucking – it’s a bit like Iron Maiden minus the issues, and seemingly designed to be enjoyed on a road trip across the desert. Helix works similar magic, but tames some of the excessive rock leanings heard elsewhere. Some of the exuberant joy of their debut has been swept aside, yes, but this set is not going to alienate anyone who’s onboard already.
It’s certainly a step on from the Justice sound of before, and also very, very good. With Audio, Video, Disco, the duo has created their own realm and progressed into a formidable force. However, if the next album goes down the full hair-metal route, then we may need to stage an intervention.