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It’s been nine years since Justice’s seminal debut, †, and five years since Xavier De Rosnay and Gaspard Auge’s sophomore follow up, Audio, Video, Disco — gaps of time that can feel more like an eternity within the electronic music landscape. Now, at long last, the pair have returned, wielding a mononymous album, intending to challenge the ephemeral character of the “EDM boom” that took place in their absence. Enter Woman.
Cognizant of the world’s expectations in the wake of their re-emergence, Justice’s Woman addresses the concept of love through music while simultaneously standing as a statement about the transitioning social politics of love and sexuality in the modern era. Matching their sonic acumen to the name on the record’s sleeve, leave it to Justice to challenge dance music’s status quo while highlighting the intensely empowering nature of the femme.
The album’s creators honed in on one key component throughout the recording process: actively not overthinking anything. Xavier and Gaspard are acutely aware of the fact that dance music expects its factotums to “blow everyone’s mind,” but rather than break character with an attempt to chase mainstream success, Justice, as they always have, opt to open-endedly allow pop culture to decide its own relationship to their work. Historically, that approach has played out quite well for the french electro pioneers.
The third time around, the intent over the LP’s 10-track span is singularly focused on genuine songwriting, and in turn, procuring timeless dance classics as the result. From its core to its perimeter, that is exactly what Woman is: a collection of instant-classic indie dance gems. And just like a man courting a woman on the dance floor, not overthinking it plays a critical function in the record’s complexion.
Mostly sidestepping their propensity for dramatic, heady, and heavily-distorted electro/rock fusion, the Ed Banger Records duo take a different avenue with Woman, penning their own charming open love letter to the fairer sex. Almost like a narrative, the album has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. The record is introduced by “Safe and Sound,” which jump started the Justice comeback earlier this year. Most closely reminiscent of their older productions, it sets the tone for the release, but lends itself more towards the rest of the album’s contemporary disco feel. A sense of building sensual intensity is palpable on tracks like “Pleasure” and “Fire,” with the record hitting its full-blown culmination on the seven-minute masterpiece that is “Chorus,” and the following selection, “Randy.” Justice do, however, intermittently return to old form on tracks like “Alakazam!” and “Heavy Metal,” across the release. The album ends its narrative on an elegant note, fading to black on the tail end of the release with “Love S.O.S.” and “Close Call.
Justice use their words carefully: the word woman evokes a bold, poignant sense of human divinity. Its a word that’s both commanding and loving all at once — a dichotomy that resonates beautifully over the course of Justice’s new LP. The timing of the album’s release is fitting too, landing at a time when feminism and gender identity are as prominent as ever.
It feels like it has been ages since Audio, Video, Disco — eons since †. Now, grown men who’s days of black leather jackets and studs are possibly behind them, Gaspard and Xavier have written a record that is perhaps more in-tune with their emotional capacities, while simultaneously challenging the fleeting nature of pop success. Ultimately, Justice have delivered another ageless dance opus with Woman, concentrating solely on one of the most enduring artistic catalysts of all time: love.