Justice’s second album was always going to create a bit of a stir, and if you’re expecting Cross 2.0 then you might want to get your coat. It’s not. But, it is the soundtrack to a rebellious 80’s Hollywood action film that never got made. It’s big on grandeur, emotion and stadium rock. It never deviates from the concept too far, but it captures all those emotions you get from a classic action film where the hero, against the odds, saves the day and get’s the girl.
‘Horse Power’ is a statement of intent as Justice unleash 320 raging rock horses through a post-apocalyptic landscape. Cue the haunting synths, the possessed church organ, growling basslines and then the expected rock opus. You’re slapped across the face by a cacophony of electrifying guitars, face kicking kicks and a general air of excitement. It is everything that you want of from a intro track for Justice’s new album. Thankfully it’s more The Who, than Bon Kovi – it’s brimming full of drama, passion, and a general air ‘I don’t give a fuck’.
‘Ohio’ is a tip of the hat to the Beach boys and most importantly Brian May’s psychedelic rock and roll – it starts with a choir of vocals that just wouldn’t sound out of place in ‘Smile’ – it patters along at a pace much suited to your average west-coast surfer dude. By the time you get to about the halfway point you’re praying for a reprieve, an about turn – and in many ways you get it, the synths and eventual kick towards the end are quite special.
‘Canon Primo’ is just your average restrained pretentious reprise. But the ‘Canon’ itself more than lives up to the billing; fist pumping synths, live drums and a rousing chorus’ makes up the classic 80’s rock veneer, it’s in the same vein of ‘Horse Power’, but it’s more Bon Jovi, than the Who for us, but without the downside of Jovi’s annoying voice. So ultimately a satisfying track.
The whole album see’s Justice trying to relive the last 40 years worth of rock through the method of French electro, it’s still the exploration of rock and electro, but the medium has change; it’s not the hard stuff. But the classics like Zeppelin, the Who, and even Queen.
When it works – which is almost all of it – tracks like the disco pop hooks of ‘Helix’, the energy and emotion of ‘Newlands’, and the revisited restrained gospel influences of ‘Planisphere’ will almost certainly get you air-guitaring and pretending to be Slash – there’s no doubt our mind that you will be caught up in the grandeur, the emotion, and sheer scale of the sound.
It’s a look back at the best of early rock and roll, and includes everything from folk with ‘On’N’On’ to Queen’s pomp and ceremony with ‘Brain Vision’ and more modern flavours with ‘Audio, Video, Disco’. It’s all there, changes in tempos, massive guitars riff, drums solos and that unmistakeable air of cheesy American rock and roll. Unfortunately it doesn’t really add anything new to it. But that doesn’t mean it fails. It’s not especially new, and certainly not particularly forward thinking, but it more than hits the spot for a swashbuckling, strut down rock and roll memory lane.
It completely achieves the stadium rock aspect of the concept, but unfortunately we’d have to say in places its lost a little bit of the signature Justice swagger. Overall it’s a succinct, concise album, which never strays too far from the brief. With very little filler it shows why Justice should be so revered, and it just about delivers on everything they promised – even if what they promised might not have been what you wanted. It’s a electrifying enterprise looking back at the best of rock and roll through the eye’s of two quirky French guys from Paris.
HBF Rating 9/10