Monday, October 29, 2007

CD Review: † (Cross) by Justice

Although the French electronic duo Justice had been doing remixes for a while, many probably did not hear of them until they heard about Kanye West's tantrum at the 2007 MTV Europe Music Awards. Justice's video with group Simian beat Kanye's video at the show which led to one of Kanye's rants. Often compared to fellow French electronic artists Daft Punk, Justice make a big splash with their debut album (a.k.a. Cross). While the Daft Punk comparison isn't inappropriate, Justice is far from a Daft Punk clone. is an unapologetic dance album that will have you moving along before you know it.

The best-known track on is the infectious “D.A.N.C.E.,” whose cool, simple video was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award this year (and inspired Kanye West to use the same director for his “Good Life” video). Featuring the vocals of a children's choir, “D.A.N.C.E.” is cute but funky. It's a crowd-pleaser that will delight dance fans and non-dance fans alike. However, it's the only song on the album like that.

Most of is instrumental and filled with great, unlikely electronic grooves. The best example of Justice's approach is “Newjack.” Samples of the Brothers Johnson's “You Make Me Wanna Wiggle” are chopped and mixed to the point that you can't believe what you're hearing actually came from a song. Somehow, some way, the duo creates a beat out of the bits and pieces that works quite well.

“Stress” sounds like an intense piece of 1970's film score that's stuck just before the crescendo put to a beat. The excellent “Phantom” hits at electronic and dance fans in two distinct parts. The original “Phantom” is more heavily electronic and has some glitchy moments. “Phantom Pt. II,” on the other hand, is a bit more stable and palatable, complete with some disco-esque strings. The relaxed “Valentine” sounds like the music of a circus from space.

If there's a misstep on , it's “Tthhee Ppaarrttyy.” As you listen, you'll hope that this song is meant to be a parody of hip-hop clichés. Guest star Uffie raps on the song and both the lyrics and her rapping are pretty bad. When the chorus features the word “freaky-fied,” it's not good. This song isn't necessarily as terrible as the worst hip-hop, but it stands out for all the wrong reasons because it's worse than the rest of the album.

Despite the title being a symbol (something that usually screams pretentiousness), Justice's debut album is fun and worthy of repeat listens. The music on doesn't try to be serious or complex. It's only concerned with trying to make you move a bit as you listen to it. It's often big and bold and a bit less polished than work by other artists. Time will tell if Justice will be able to held in the same regard as Daft Punk or Air but they are certainly off to a good start.

Enjoy my favorite track from the album:

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