Justice Ditch the Clutter on 'Hyperdrama'

BY Luke PearsonPublished Apr 25, 2024


If you're talking about French disco-funk and you're not talking about Daft Punk, you're probably talking about Justice. Few have challenged the former's supremacy, but Justice arguably came closest in 2007 with their electrifying debut (Daft Punk's seminal Homework came out in 1997, if you need a refresher), a bracing, skronky blast of electro-funk that blew the doors off the style with a sweaty punk energy that lent their already anthemic melodies an added urgency.

If you were a casual listener unfamiliar with a lot of what the media were still calling "electronica" at the time, this shit was fresh. It was a bit of a letdown then, when — four momentum-killing years later — they returned with the distinctly tamer Audio, Video, Disco, a journey into tedious classic rock inflections that saw much of the grime power-washed away. The duo (made up of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay) have undoubtedly excelled with this sound since, but nothing's hit quite as hard as that debut.

Hyperdrama, their long-awaited (eight years this time!) fourth studio album nearly does it though —it's easily their most exciting work since Cross. Big, super funky and effortless without any shoehorned inflections, Hyperdrama has a wider scope than the super compressed mix of their debut could ever support. The duo continue to lean into their epic tendencies here, resulting in some huge, cinematic stompers (basically their signature sound now — even their giant cross logo connotes a stern massiveness), and when it all comes together it conjures a strut that feels like it could cover the world in a few funky strides.

"Generator" is the obvious heavyweight, a distillation of the Justice sound put under a microscope and projected onto a screen the size of a football field. No one else really does it like them, and it's a pleasure to hear their style writ large again — the leisurely bass groove during the bridge feels like a real flex, and the production makes it pop perfectly. There are some peaceful, spacier moments that feature a lot more texture than we're used to as well — the opening of "Incognito" takes a page from M83 for instance, all cascading drums and wide-open spaces, before quickly tightening up for another driving funk-out.

There are also parts that pass by without making much impression. The pair still have a general tendency to go on for too long, and some of the guest vocalists, while they all more or less work (Tame Impala seems especially suited), are so overproduced that a few of them are hard to tell apart. Even Thundercat comes off as a bit anonymous — and they hardly even get him to play bass! Elsewhere we get some amusing John Carpenter energy at the end of late-album plodder "Muscle Memory," Michael Myers languidly stabbing to the beat, which, sure, why not?  Luckily, the classic rock influences are largely gone. Love them or hate them, there are no more Pink Floyd children's choirs or ghosts of the Eagles haunting proceedings. If you'd cooled on the duo for this reason, now is the time to jump back in. Justice have purified their sound on Hyperdrama, largely for the better. 

(Ed Banger), (Because Music )

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