Audio, Video, Disco

07.11.11 Words by: Charlie Jones

The second album from French electro duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay comes riding in on a wave of elated expectations, and if you dipped briefly into the album, you might think you see the pair surfing casually along of this crest of credibility, holding on to the snippets of crunchy, jagged dance music that made them so well-loved. The board threatens to slip from under their feet, however, when the realisation sinks in that the pounding repetition and flamboyant silliness of the whole thing are not actually enough to keep this band afloat. With the exploration of a new genre, and a new era, the pair are evolving in a way that’s artistically interesting – by trying their hands at a more disco-infused sound, the duo seem to be flexing their creative muscles by expanding into new instruments and even new decades – but in practice, it’s meandering and dull. This brutish barrage of sound, which floods the senses in the way that the title promises it will, bullies its listener into believing that it’s successful – but the hearty ambition, or even the heart, is missing from the Justice who made a name for themselves in 2007.

Swinging into action with a ‘Guitar Hero’ sheen, the album borrows heavily from the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Who in order to give ‘Audio, Video, Disco’ an injection of that old, stadium-sized, hairy rock sound. Horsepower sets this tone right from the start, with distorted riffs and insistent power chords tearing through the finely-tuned dance music you might expect from the duo – in this souped-up state, the songs become almost a parody of themselves, as Justice take all the most hilariously OTT aspects of their musical style and tastes and continuously roll them into a ‘Breakfast Club’-esque fist-pump of a song. The result is something which is fun, but you’re not sure whether you’re meant to take it entirely seriously. The whole aesthetic runs away with itself in Canon, which borrows heavily from medieval influences, sounding as though it marches through the Middle Ages with a zealously-played kazoo.

It’s the vocalised, softer moments of this record which, funnily enough, carry the punch the duo need to give the whole thing justification. There’s something about the restrained, faraway voice on On’N’On which is incredibly effective, as lyrics which promise “someday you will be mine, and so the story goes on and on” anchor the sprawling forest of guitar noises in an emotion, a direction and a narrative. With the vocals maintaining a steady, sensible level of tone and emphasis, the childish rush of noise that tramples over the rest of the album is harnessed into something that makes sense. After all, this is one of the album’s largest flaws – that so much of it makes so little sense. Songs like Brianvision clearly have fun in their patriotic, Brian May-referencing guitar-worship, but the point of them seems to be lost somewhere in the maelstrom of riffs, and humming the tune later is near impossible.

There are moments of glory and of laughter on this record, but they are glimmers in a swamp of too-similar ideas, directionless development and self-caricaturing fluff. Although this is a fascinating development for the band – and a band’s decision to refurbish themselves and their sound is far from a bad thing, as The Horrors can testify – it says little, seeming only to result in a reel of noise that goes On’N’On. Ultimately, ‘Audio, Video, Disco’ strikes a chord that is more laughable and much less intriguing than the sudden explosion of inspiration that was 2007’s ‘†’.

4/10

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