In an interview with Gothamist, Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé, collectively known as French dance producers/perpetual leather jacket wearers Justice, responded to those who accused them of being a one-trick pony. The answer was as honest as it was telling: “We are a one trick pony, and we’re happy to be a one trick pony,” de Rosnay said. “We try to take the same idea, and give it a different texture, to make something new. It’s okay to us to use the same formula. It’s our formula.”
Yes and no.
Four years after their boundary-crashing debut LP bonded dance fans, metalheads and indie rock lovers under one giant coke line, the duo return with Audio, Video, Disco, a proggier, softer version of their former selves. If their unnamed debut was the party’s apex, Audio is that nebulous late-night hour between the zenith and the comedown when the guitars are still turned up, but the party’s winding down.
Sure, there’s still vestiges of the debut’s coke whore sleaze — that’s a compliment. The Moroder-meets-Brian May guitars of “Brianvision.” The party-people-hands-in-the-air anthem of “Helix.” But tracks like “Newlands,” “Civilization” and “Ohio” sound more like a lost ’70s AM rock album with electric guitars than the darkened din of their debut. “On’n’on” is the best song Emerson, Lake and Palmer never wrote and the warm guitars, sunshine synths and choral “Ohhhs” of “Parade” may be better suited for a Legend of Zelda soundtrack than proper album. (Picture elves scurrying around a forest and you get the idea.)
But here’s the obvious — yet glaring — thing about being a self-admitted one-trick pony: There’s no margin for error. Radiohead can fire off a misstep, but have earned enough capital and goodwill to return with another album and remain cool with their fans. We’re still awaiting the verdict (sorry) on Justice, who may still be DJing a party long after all the guests have left. [Stream Audio, Video, Disco via Rolling Stone.]