Album Review: JUSTICE – Hyperdrama

When you think of French Electronic music or French House, you must think of many names that are well-known, the first and most iconic one being Daft Punk. Others include M83, Jean-Michel Parre, Kavinsky, DJ Snake and David Guetta, but there’s another French electronic act that’s been doing their thing since the 2000s and that act… is JUSTICE.

Yep, members Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay formed the band in 2003, mainly doing remixes for larger mainstream artists like Britney Spears, N*E*R*D* & Daft Punk, but  they debuted their first album in 2007 with Cross. It was met with critical acclaim and has iconic tracks like “D.A.N.C.E.,” “Waters of Nazareth,” “Stress,” and of course “Genesis.” Some of these you might’ve heard in DJ Hero 2, specifically “D.A.N.C.E” remixed with “Nasty” by Janet Jackson & “Waters of Nazareth” remixed with “War” by Edwin Starr. You heard samples of the song “Stress” on the recent Lil Uzi Vert album Pink Tape 2, and you certainly heard “Genesis” played in John Wick Part 4 in that one special scene (I’m not saying which one; you figure it out).

Of course, I think Cross is their best album to date and as for their follow-ups like Audio, Video, Disco and Woman, they’re decent but didn’t match up to what Cross had done. Now 8 years after Woman (No, I’m not counting Woman Worldwide – that’s a remix album), they had news of a new album coming, and upon hearing the first single “One Night/All Night” with Tame Impala, a certain spark came back with that nu-disco groove and their banging electronic vibes switching it up. Then in comes “Generator” which is their usual standard of hard-hitting that goes all the way, followed by “Incognito” and then “Saturine” featuring Miguel and yeah, I was ready for this album. Also, hearing of a Thundercat feature on here helped that anticipation go further.

So, what did I think of Hyperdrama?

This is their best album since Cross. There. I said it. Everything about this album just transcends into a nice blend of nu-disco, electronic, and synth-pop. The first track with Tame Impala “Neverender” is a excellent start to the album: just a blend of this bold instrumental with Kevin Parker delivering his vocals magnificently.

Because I remember
The hardest of the times I don’t forget
Never ender
And all I was about to be
‘Cause I remеmber
The hardest of thе times I don’t forget
Never ender
And all I was about to

The time is upon us, I should’ve been honest
The pain in my heart, I remember the sharpest
It broke like a promise, I’ve fallen the hardest
And now I’ll go on

At first, “Afterimage” does have an alright beat, not one of the more extravagant ones on here but the vocals from singer RIMON does add a plus for me. I can confirm that “Dear Alan” is one of my favorite tracks on here; from how the song begins, the instrumental has that future funk feel, and from what I keep seeing, this is a tribute to Alan Braxe, one of the early French electronic musicians, mainly part of the trio STARDUST (trio with Thomas Bangalter [from Daft Punk] & vocalist Benjamin Diamond), and it also samples “Dear Brian” by Chris Rainbow. I also like how on this track there’s this glitchy breakdown near the end; that was the musical highlight of this album for me.

“Incognito” is a significant track as I like how it begins with this sweeping, glamorous production of orchestra-like sounds like you’re entering the heavenly gates, but then it hits you like you’re in a futuristic high speed chase in a sci-fi action movie. It’s just beautiful to hear, especially since the intro opens and closes the song. Speaking of the closing, there’s some lyrics…

It’s forever
Nothing feels better
If we ride above Heaven
Must be more than mannequin love

…that leads to the next song “Mannequin Love” with vocals by The Flints. It’s a song that has the most ‘pop’ sound to it. The song title is in question referencing ‘fake love’ i.e. a mannequin – you know, the things you often see in department stores that look like people but aren’t. The rhythm and swirling arpeggios sets this song right. “Moonlight Rendez-vous” sets itself as the interlude with this swanky and jazzy atmosphere, followed by saxophones and horns; it gives off the feeling of something that you hear from Cowboy Bebop.

“Explorer” does remind me of when I listened to Kavinsky the first time or something out of Tron; come to think of it, some people were commenting on how it sounds like something from The Legend of Zelda. The track also features contributions from New Zealand psychedelic-funk musician Connan Mockasin doing spoken word.

I had noticed when “Saturine” was a single, the track started off like it was continuing from another track and well, it did in a way. “Harpy Dream” is this short interlude that leads into “Saturine,” which is still one of my top favorite tracks on here with Miguel almost reminding me of Prince, and I love how this sounds very funk-centric and glamorous with the synths. Then it all caps off with “The End”… yeah, the track is called that and yup, this is the track that features Thundercat; I expected this track to be great and my expectations were met. You got something that sounds like a final boss theme, Thundercat’s vocals were on point as usual, and the execution overall makes it a perfect end to the album.

Is this the end?
‘Cause I remember this feeling
It’s like I can’t speak
And then I feel weak
No one I’ve known apologized
Not again, no, not again
Oh, where else can we go?
‘Cause you and I know what feels right
Just to join the light
Before it goes dark, before it all fades away

This album gave me the energy, the rush, and the groove that the previous two Justice albums didn’t fully deliver; there isn’t one misstep in this album, even the tracks I thought were just OK are still good. It is an electrifying experience from start to finish and while this album is second to Cross for being their best, this is the album of theirs that had enough power, groove and thrills to keep us enticed and as expected, an Album of the Year contender for myself.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT. There’s no drama about it. This album is great!

HYPERDRAMA is on Ed Banger Records/Because Music and is available to purchase on CD & Vinyl via The Official Justice Online Store and also on digital download and streaming services.

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