19 November 2016
Justice - Woman
Now it has been many a moon since we last reviewed anything by the French Electronic duo Justice, we have only reviewed '†' (my pitiful attempt at a review is linked here, I were just starting out) and to be honest it was an album which I liked in places and was not overwhelmed in others. I had been meaning to visit at 'Audio, Video, Disco', but alas time and space got in the way. However, I am drawn to this one because the image of the cross being covered in paint is a powerful image for me, if I had not already heard of the band it would have been a prime candidate for our 'Cover Roulette' series. Produced by Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé (aka, themselves), this album was first hinted at in 2014, so it has been two years in the making; a lot has changed in the world of music since they were first around, so felt as if it would be a good time to revisit the band, as I am curious to how their sound has progressed and if my opinion of the band has changed.
01 – Safe And Sound
With a classic swirling sound and choir vocals, the band start the album with a song that is very reminiscent of the works of the legendary Giorgio Moroder as it mixes House with Disco. It has a natural vibe to some of the synth music that feels like the tide is washing over you, the bass is funky and the song is kept very tight. It reminds me a lot of their song ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ from '†', but with a little more style attached; a brilliant opening to this album.
02 – Pleasure
‘Pleasure’ reminds me a lot of Tame Impala, but if he was brought up on Prog and House as it shares that retro edged production to some of the sound. I love how the back is the most dominate instrument here, yeah it might be in the background, but it is the part that you notice the most and it is driving you to dance. This is not the sort of thing I would usually go for to be honest, but it is done so well that I cannot help but enjoy it.
03 – Alakazam!
‘Alakazam!’ is another Giorgio Moroder influenced song, with a hint of the Donna Summer song ‘I Feel Love’ to some of the synth work here that also has a nod to ‘Phantom Pt. 2’ as well. I am not saying it is a carbon copy, but there is a nod to the sound of that song and this is not a bad thing at all; it is a classic sound and this song is another that has a groove that you would find so easy to dance to, as this is the aim of house music then it is job well done.
04 – Fire
This song has a very French feeling about it, as it shares a similar sound template to their cousins in Air & Daft Punk. It has that loud bass once again, some fantastic keyboard work, a repeatable hook vocal and the drop beats and euphoric moments that will make people move around at their shows.
05 – Stop
‘Stop’ slows the mood down to begin with on ‘Woman’, it shows that the band can at least change direction when required. However, it is not a song that I appreciate more than like as the style does not move me in the way other songs have on the album. It feels a little too forced and not as organic as ‘Pleasure’ or ‘Heavy Metal’ for instance. Not a bad tune, just not one I am a fan of either.
06 – Chorus
‘Chorus’ has a long introduction, it is almost two minutes into the seven-minute song before we approach anything that deviates from the opening passage. Even then, the undercurrent of the song, the bass, the drums and basic synth sections are holding everything steady as the rest of the sound increases and then reverts back to type. You may think I am going to say I hate it again, quite the opposite to be honest with you; I like songs like this where it takes a little longer to get to the point, where it changes along the way, whilst having a holding passage of music that lets everything else go on their own little way. It is a very interesting piece and worth repeat listening.
07 – Randy
‘Randy’ starts off sounding like a machine and then it goes into another disco-fusion song that has part rock and part Moroder to the sound. It keeps up the energy and has its own natural groove once again, whilst giving enough for the alternative dance crowd to keep them happy.
08 – Heavy Metal
This is as far from metal as you can get, to be honest – it is practically Prog Rock in place meeting disco in a dark alley for some good old fashion loving; ‘Heavy Metal’ starts with some ELP style keyboards, some sonic synths, heavy bass and it is another song that just keeps on building and when hits the hook, oh when it hits that hook…… I think it is such an elegant and simple hook that it is instantly addictive. With an energy that goes through every section of the song, it is hands down the best song on the album – but it is not metal….
09 – Love S.O.S.
The penultimate song of the album is called ‘Love S.O.S.’ which has a howling guitar noise (or siren, I have not figured out which it is) and the band once again have vocals over the top of this song. Much like ‘Stop’, it does not quite work for me as it feels a little forced in places; but it is still a better song than ‘Stop’ as it has that strange noise over the top of it all the way through. So, it is a curious piece that is still decent.
10 – Close Call
Ending the album is ‘Close Call’ which drifts the over you like a mist is covering the land and everything is heading towards the end. Out of all the slower numbers on the album, this is the best on offer as it is a reflect song that lets your mind drift as the song gently rolls over you. With some gentle and moving synth, the song moves along and whilst it might have some louder instruments towards the end of the song, the band let ‘Woman’ come to rest on a chill out moment.
Justice have made me eat my own words with this album, they have really made one hell of a great record here which has truly impressed me in a ways that were shown in the potential within songs such as ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ & ‘Phantom Pt 2.’. They have taken influences on this album, worn them on their sleeves and added their own flavour to the album as well, creating a brilliant house record. It does have a couple of songs which do not come across as well as others and it is not the sort of thing I would usually search for, but it is played so well that I cannot help but enjoy it. I read another review today which compared this album to elevator music with prog rock sensibilities, which I think is a very harsh view and shows the reviewer has took one element (the prog influence) and not looked at the album as a whole. It is a beautiful record that has many styles which merge together with ease, so well done Justice – I tip my hat to you and eat my words from the previous review.
8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart
Top track – Heavy Metal
You can purchase Woman on Amazon here.
You can use the following link to listen to Woman on the Justice.Church website.
You can follow the activities of Justice on Facebook here (they do not have an official website).
You can stream Woman on Deezer here.
You can stream Woman on Spotify here.
You can stream Woman on Tidal here.
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