By Roozbeh Badie
This is an album I have been anticipating for a long time. When the French house duo Justice released their debut album † (alternatively known as Cross) in 2007, I, like many others, became obsessed. Like Daft Punk (who are also an electronic duo from France), Justice incorporated a variety of genres into their songs while keeping the danceable feel that all electronic music is based around. After Cross I began following Justice very closely and heard almost everything they released after that point. I fell in love with their Grammy-winning remix of MGMT’s “Electric Feel”, and the 17 minute mammoth “Planisphere”, which appears as a bonus on the iTunes purchase of Audio Video Disco, is nothing short of a masterpiece. But when Justice released the first single, “Civilization”, from their then unannounced new album in June, I was disappointed. I’m sad to say I feel the same way about the entire album.
Not to say that Audio Video Disco is a bad album; on the contrary, I think it’s an enjoyable one. The hooks do their job, the beats make you dance, and the vocals flow with the music very nicely. It’s just nowhere near as good as their previous releases.
“Civilization” has a catchy chorus that easily gets stuck in your head, and the note that is held throughout the entire song actually is enjoyable. However, “Civilization” is lying to itself. The track has a false air of epicenes vibrating off it, as if Justice felt it would become the anthem for all of civilization, but in reality the only anthem I feel this song will become is that of a college dorm party.
Each song on Audio Video Disco draws inspiration from different artists, most of them from the 1970’s, causing no two tracks to sound alike. These inspirations, however, are easily identified, and I don’t like that. “Parade”, with its pulsating bass drums and clapping hands in the background, is obviously inspired by Queen. “New Lands” sounds like it could be a bonus track off a Journey album, and “Brainvision” does the same but with a Beatles vibe to it. The track “On’n’On”, unlike the rest of the album, is not inspired so much as copied. It is basically Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” but with different vocals.
The only purely original song that I hear on the album is also my favorite, the title track. When that song was first released, it received a lot of negative reviews, saying it was too repetitive and that the drone noises in the background were annoying. I, however, loved it. It was purely original. Repetition is sometimes a good thing, this track proves it, and the drone noise doesn’t distract for me, it complements.
Overall, this was a good album, but very disappointing. I recommend it for fans of Daft Punk’s second album, Discovery, as well as anyone who likes electronic music that is played on the radio. I also recommend buying the iTunes version of the album, as it comes with “Planisphere” as a bonus track, which is one of my favorite electronic songs of recent years.
Favorite Tracks: “Audio Video Disco”, “New Lands”, “Canon”, “Parade”
Least Favorite Track: “Civilization”