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Judy G.

CD of The Week

Week of 5/13/24

    Justice - Hyperdrama (Ed Banger / Because)

    Comparisons between Daft Punk and Justice have been inevitable since the release of Justice’s debut, Cross, in 2007. Besides the superficial fact of both groups being Parisian duos, they share an essential mission of arena-sizing the euphoria of an underground rave. However, Justice have always been the louder, less intellectual outfit, with anthems like “Waters of Nazareth” and “Civilization” possessing more distorted power than melody. Hyperdrama shifts that balance in an intriguing way. Whether it be maturity or the influence of the album’s collaborators, the result is vibey and slinky, opening new sonic doors for a group that could rest on its laurels and still fill EDM festival tents for decades to come.

    Looking at the guest list for Hyperdrama gives an initial clue to the changes evident throughout the album. Tame Impala, Miguel, and Thundercat are all featured on album highlights and the soulfulness and intelligence of all three artists rub off on the rest of the set. The two tracks featuring Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker (“Neverender” and “One Night/All Night”) both possess driving beats and hedonistic lyrics, but the soft touch of Parker’s voice sends both tracks into accessible, disco-like territory. “Afterimage” (which features Dutch R&B singer RIMON) is more melancholy with an angelic refrain of “why things don’t feel the same? / time painted all our pages” accompanying a hypnotic, looping synth beat. As usual for Justice, there are some interesting homages sprinkled throughout. “Mannequin Love” (featuring Australian band The Flints) shares some of the same musical notes of the climax of Tame Impala’s “Let It Happen” while “Moonlight Rendez-vous" is almost a bizarro cover of Wham’s “Careless Whisper.” These playful songs show that Justice is drawing from a deep musical well and trying to subvert expectations associated with a typical high-energy EDM album.

    If there is a knock against Hyperdrama, it could be its lack of cohesion. “Generator” and “Incognito” are fun tracks on their own, but their aggression breaks the transportive flow of the album. Otherwise, Hyperdrama stands as an impressive, expansive album for one of the bigger names in electronic music. Justice may still remind listeners of Daft Punk (after all, Discovery and Random Access Memories share many of the same positive attributes of Hyperdrama), but the duo should be increasingly seen as peers rather than protégés.

    Justice will be bringing their beats and lights to The Met on Wednesday, July 31st. Dancing is encouraged.

    Review by Sol

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