In the two-thousands, Parisian duo Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay, (aka Justice) were the poster boys for a whole new movement in electronic music. Undisputed top of the pile at Ed Banger records and leaders of the electro-house movement coming out of France. By 2010 they were selling out stadiums and bridging the gap between glitchy house music and hairy-faced prog-rock. During the twenty-tens, however, Justice’s impact was all to quickly forgotten and the fanbase dispersed heading either in the direction of more serious dance music or off into the overly dramatic world of EDM.
This Friday the two Frenchman are dropping a brand new full length album. Whether it will allow them to reclaim their throne or confirm their status as a flash in the pan remains to be seen but for now let’s remind ourselves of ten of the highs (and lows)…
1 Sure You Will – 2003
This super happy, super simplistic number is Justice taking their first baby steps towards the stadium. Released by Musclorvision on a compilation album of tracks made to sound like Eurovision entries, this track is deliberately naive and playful and noticeably more raw than a lot of the duo’s later work. Whilst the production techniques would certainly come on in leaps and bounds from this point, Justice were always conscious to maintain some of this pop innocence as they went.
2 Never Be Alone – 2003
This remix of Simian’s ’02 original went straight to the point, skipping all of the original’s clever key changes and dynamics and hey presto! An instance smash which not only springboarded Justice’s career but didn’t do too bad for Simian either who would soon splinter off into Simian Mobile Disco. The remix was actually created for a college remix contest but got picked up by Ed Banger who were understandably eager to release it. It’s also one of the first examples of Justice’s signature live funk bass over wailing synth formula which many fell in and out of love with in a short number of years.
3 Waters of Nazareth – 2005
Justice’s first solo single saw them venturing even further into heavily compressed noise and distortion. This particular track was perhaps their most raucous to date and cemented their unmistakable sound. The sheer loudness of the frequencies threatened to blow up both the speakers and the listeners eardrums at any moment. Like it or not, it was hard to argue at this stage that Justice’s sound was unique and impactful. This track would feature on the second album Cross which debuted in ’07.
4 Human After All – 2006
Remixing Daft Punk is pretty much the Mecca for any French electronic artist and in ’06 Justice’s remixing of Human After All was certainly a momentous moment in their career. The comparisons been the two acts had already been made, with wow247 heralding Justice as filling “a Daft Punk shaped hole in your life”. After this first collaboration the comparisons were rife.
5 D.A.N.C.E. – 2007
This track, perhaps their most famous to date, was inspired by and dedicated to Michael Jackson because, why not? The super catchy vocal cuts which sit all over this upbeat track combined with it’s ever climbing progressions ensured D.A.N.C.E. would be an anthem for ’07.
5 Phantom II – 2007
Shortly after remixing Daft Punk, the duo received another honour in being remixed by Soulwax. The Belgian group stripped down the original relying almost entirely on it’s driving compressed beat and unforgettable resonant bassline. Around the same time the duo were chosen to do the next Fabriclive mix but when they submitted it, it was rejected. Rosnay later commented that Fabric “weren’t ready for something like this.” The duo later released the mix independently, calling it the Justice Xmas Mix.
6 B.E.A.T. – 2007
As the b-side to their smash hit D.A.N.C.E. Justice released B.E.A.T. Essentially the track used the same vocal refrain and spliced it into a darker less melodic beat. This seemed like a pretty odd decision but ultimately the track was a big success although nowhere near that of the original.
7 Stress – 2008
Also featured on the Cross album, this single’s video earned an overwhelmingly critical reception in the press. Directed by Romain Gavras no less and first premiered on Kanye West’s website, the movie depicts a group of youths wearing Justice jackets on a rampage of destruction around the outskirts of Paris. The video was widely criticised as being racist, as all of the children in the video are depicted as of African or North African descent. This is particularly unfortunate as it took focus away from the track itself which is arguably one of Justice’s finest to date.
8 Electric Feel – 2009
In 2009 Justice won a Grammy for their remix of MGMT’s Electric Feel. Managing ride the wave of the original single released two years previous, this one was more similar to their earlier productions and proved another big success for Rosnay and Auge. Partnering up with MGMT and other similar acts was also very useful in taking Justice into the realm of indietronica and new rave scenes which were huge news in the mid-two-thousands.
9 Get On Your Boots – 2009
The fact that this track is actually remotely listenable is quite a triumph. Who’s idea it was to pair U2 with Justice remains a mystery but the outcome certainly could have been a lot worse. Still, at this stage the unique sound that Justice had pioneered a few years previous was clearly becoming watered down in order to be in line for more mainstream remixes. A Lenny Kravitz remix followed shortly after for the duo but we won’t talk about that one. Partnering up with new bands on the scene was one thing but propping up languishing older acts didn’t quite such a warm reception.
10 Civilization – 2011
After a relatively quiet couple of years, Justice returned with a much flangier prog-rock affair featuring Ali Love. The sound maintained the big beats from the previous album but also a more live feel reminiscent of their early work back in ’06 and ’07. The album Audio, Video, Disco followed shortly after and received largely positive reviews despite being excesively and defiantly corny. This was a brave move and one that paid off. Embracing their melodramatic tendencies played to the duos strength and resulted in a new sound which remained true to the Justice brand.
Looking to the new release the big question is how will Gaspard and Xavier reinvent themselves this time around. Following from their past trajectory it seems logical for the new album to be deliberately over the top and theatrical but how far can that trajectory go before it becomes defunct? Whilst their career has certainly been unique and iconic, it’s certainly true that the duo haven’t always hit the mark. This third full length will surely be conclusive one way or another.