Do you like late 70s/early 80s rock? Justice certainly do. To me it represents the worst excesses of the time both aesthetically (terrible hair, thrusting codpieces) and societally (misogynistic, materialistic, hubristic). It also makes me think of awful nights out as a fresher, drunken hordes braying along to ‘classic’ rock (myself included). But I’ll let you in on a secret, as contradictory as it sounds, and as sullied as it makes me feel, those nights were undeniably fun. Not in an ironic post-modern sense, but drunken, arms around your mates, beer spilled all over the floor FUN! It was with trepidation that I pressed play on Audio, Video, Disco. What of the era would carry through, the bleached mullets? Or the crowd pleasing anthems?
Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have certainly never made any secret of their love for stadium filling classic rock tropes. Their name was made producing parisien filter house that adhered to archetypes so well they battled accusations that they were actually Daft Punk. Their sound was scuzzier than Daft Punk’s. Justice always were a little bit more ‘rock n roll,’ all untamed hair, skinny jeans and black leather jackets, rather than robots.
Justice came to prominence at the height of the indie-dance phenomenon and where † fell firmly in the dance half of the house music with rock leanings equation, Audio, Video, Disco inverts this. The numerous solos are pure rocknroll indulgence, but the arena sized drumming is a surprisingly good fit for both influences, even the harpsichord (!) arpeggios sound right. Add to this chopped and compressed synths, hands-in-the-air piano and you’ve got the familiar components of indie-dance.
By marrying two kinds of music that at their heart are all about pleasing the crowd and having a good time they’ve succeeded in producing a great listen. Canon and Newlands, alongside singles Civilisation and the title track are real stand-outs. Helix is probably the most straightforward synthesis of new and old Justice, but the whole thing (even when it gets a little Supertramp-ish) is a great listen. Audio, Visual, Disco isn’t groundbreaking, or revolutionary, but within its own internal logic it succeeds, and is a step forward from their debut. Denuded of the worst of its 80s excess, and refracted through modern house music. Using house music as a defibrillator Justice may have successfully rehabilitated the leather trousered, coke addled corpse of arena rock.
This post originally appeared on The Fugitive Motel on 21 October 2011