Everything about Justice’s image screams rock star, from the gothic cross right down to the leather jackets. It was only a matter of time before the French electronic duo would attempt to craft some rock music of their own. I’ll admit I was skeptical when I heard that this was the direction their sophomore effort was headed, but Audio, Video, Disco comes as a pleasant surprise. Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Auge trade the jarring electro-house that they built their name on for more melodic rock beats, exploring electronic music’s ability to redefine more traditional genres.
Audio, Video, Disco is an enormous segue from 2007’s (Cross): The distorted basslines and choppy synths that flooded their debut album now only rarely surface, and there are no major pop singles to rival “D.A.N.C.E.” or “DVNO.” But those who respected Justice for their creative eye and not just their particular style will enjoy this album’s unconventional approach to rock ‘n’ roll. Chock-full of swirling organ riffs, soaring guitar solos and Queen-inspired vocal harmonies, Audio, Video, Disco resurrects ’70s prog rock and ’80s hair metal and transforms it with a touch of electro. By blending these three energetic genres, Justice have created the ultimate dance record. (Head-bobbing and foot-tapping are inevitable.)
It is a bit ironic that Justice chose to abandon their more aggressive style at a time when dubstep is so prominent, but de Rosnay and Auge have never been ones to follow the crowd. Though their new sound clashes with what is popular, its timing couldn’t have been better. Audio, Video, Disco is not just a catchy homage to the band’s roots; it is a stunning example of electronic music embracing and enhancing another genre. This reminds listeners that the rise of electronic music does not necessarily mean the death of traditional music.