Review: Justice – Hyperdrama


Ed Banger Records
Street: 04.26
Justice = Gesaffelstein + Parov Stelar 

Since the debut of Cross in 2007, Justice has floated in and out of the limelight, but never out of EDM’s essential canon. Where in classical music there has remained the same several names and faces that captured a movement, Justice has been a staple of electronic music akin to the likes of Daft Punk and Armand Van Helden. However, I’ll be the first to admit that as much as I appreciate them and their continued work in keeping house music at the forefront of pop culture, they’re not a duo I opt for very often in my personal listening. However, I was pleasantly surprised by their latest project, Hyperdrama that boasts collaborations with Thundercat, Tame Impala, among others for its nostalgic 2010’s melodies in conjunction heavier, almost warehouse- like tracks.

The first track on the album, “Neverender,” which, as previously mentioned, is a collaboration with Australian psychedelic rock artist Tame Impala was for me, an okay start to the album. The composition of the song and its sing-ability reminds me a lot of artists like Avicii, who trademarked a decidedly pop-centric sound in his work during the 2010s. The most interesting thing about the song to me was the scratch effects and slight cut offs that make you wonder if your headphones are working or not and provide a lot of texture. But other than that, it almost feels too safe to open a new album with. I would’ve loved for Justice to do something more rock-inspired like some of their other previous work.

The next track, “Generator,” however, provides me with the drive I was looking for. It’s harsh and dancible, which is what admittedly I tend to like the most when I listen to EDM. It eventually breaks away from the main riff and spills out into something more orchestral, which showcases Justice’s appreciation for form and movement in their song composition.

The next few tracks fall into the same vein as “Generator”— a nice heavy riff backed up by smooth and soft strings. A standout of which was the third single during the album’s rollout, “Incognito.” It tricks you into thinking all the fun you had with the other tracks is over with a flashy, string and electric piano heavy opening before breaking down into another exciting, jumpy arrangement with different sounds and riffs bouncing off of each other and incorporating a funk or disco break down pattern throughout. As much as I liked these tracks from this chunk of the album, they did feel somewhat repetitive and redundant after a few listens, and I would’ve liked to see them get more unexpected and abrasive.

The next after that, “Mannequin Love,” I didn’t find very noteworthy and was pretty forgettable in the grand scheme of the entire album for its burst back into the pop territory. “Moonlight Rendez-vous,” however, is a sonically interesting, mysterious jazz track that reminded me of the work of Angelo Badalamenti in his soundtrack work with David Lynch, which sets the tone for the rest of the album as it bleeds into “Explorer.” If the first half is an indie sleaze warehouse party, the second is a neon-noir speakeasy in the middle of outer space. Think Blade Runner.

“Saturine,” a collaboration with Miguel, feels like a break in the tension built by the previous four songs. A laid back dance track with the same complex layers of sounds and effects works to take you back into reality. While the final song, “The End,” with Thundercat calls back to the more gruff and heavy first half of the album, Thundercat’s smooth and light vocals keeps the song from feeling too out of place next to Miguel’s.

Overall, the album may have won me over. Prior to listening to this project, my perception of Justice is that they weren’t super capable of doing EDM a bunch of different ways. Post-Hyperdrama, however, I’m confident in their ability to bridge different tones and textures together to create something innovative that kept me involved while listening. –Becca Ortmann

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Review: Mdou Moctar – Funeral For Justice