Critical Voices: Justice, Audio, Video, Disco

October 19, 2011

Do you ever wish you could return to the straightforward goals and limited social interaction of an old-school arcade?  If so, the French electro-house duo Justice may have created the album for you. With an overwhelming ‘80s vibe, the band’s second album, Audio, Video, Disco, is crafted mostly from the sounds of the synthesized background music of our video game-playing youth.
But while its resemblance to the Pacman anthem may excite quarter machine wizards, the album’s eternally retro quality is frustratingly inconclusive. Though its synthy nostalgia might strike a sentimental chord, its artistic value is significantly less certain.
Fans of Justice’s first album Cross may be disappointed with this retro curveball, since the majority of their new release lacks the driving, infectious rhythm of previous hits like “Genesis” and “D.A.N.C.E.” that made audiences across Europe and North America get up and boogie. This isn’t to say the band’s new sound lacks value entirely. At times during Audio, Video, Disco, Justice reaches new strides. “On‘n’On” is a departure from their earlier successes, but it features a mellow, modern tone as well as the only meaningful lyrics on the album. “Brainvision” and “Ohio” make similar, though less successful, attempts at the same effect.
For the majority of the album, however, Justice lands on an unfortunate mix of steady, nondescript techno and over-synthesized ‘80s rock. The most frustrating aspect of the album, especially for fans of Justice’s previous work, has to be the misleading nature of several songs. The suspenseful, subtly quickening introductions of “Audio, Video, Disco” and “Canon” make listeners nearly tingle with anticipation for a much-needed jam session at the climax of the song. They are destined to be uniformly disappointed when Justice continues most of its songs with a monotonous beat, not conducive to any dancing beyond a disappointed head bob.
Mixed in with these unsatisfactory techno tracks are those songs eerily reminiscent of ‘80s arcade games. The first track of the album, “Horsepower,” has such an alarmingly retro vibe that a Space Invaders copyright lawsuit would come as no surprise.
Before you invest in Audio, Video, Disco, ask yourself, “Do I need tunes to listen to while I battle Bowser in the dungeon of Super Mario 64?” If so, confirm the purchase. However, if you’re looking for something to get your back off the wall, take a trip back to something a little less retro—Justice’s earlier work.

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments