The 70s, man. Boy did it happen.
Parisian duo Justice made their bread selling what we loved about the 70s (Michel Jackson), lost the bellweather fans by celebrating what we'd like most to forget (everything prog) and return for their first record in five years with an album that more funky and joyous than they've ever been. Miles, now, from the fidgeting dance punk of their debut single "Waters of Nazareth," Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay veer the path of likeminded French dance act Daft Punk, whose album-length ode to the 80s netted them a chart topper with Pharrell. Always on the rockier side of things, Justice comes of sounding like Tame Impala.
But that doesn't appear to bother Augé or de Rosnay in the least. Amid handclaps, the chorus of one of Woman's sunny, synthy tracks implores its listener to "Use imagination/ as a Destination," a command I'm surprised MJ didn't get to first. Their mix clusters vocalist Morgan Phalen, a frequent Justice collaborator who used to front a New York dance-punk unit called Diamond Nights) right in front of the microphone and he coos right in our ears, hurling its chorus at us like a New Age manta. The song is called "Pleasure." Elsewhere, a slice of pitch perfect disco makes the convincing argument that "Love has made me reason/Love has made me seasoned." Yum.
Where on Currents, Kevin Parker made disarmingly personal arguments in the key of ABBA and all the rest (see "Yes I'm Changing"), Woman is, unsurprisingly, much more interested in finding the nuggets of pure give-your-self-to-dance moments situated in middle of playful keyboards and subdued beats that don't so much as bang, but purr. The best track on Woman, however, is its tightest: on "Love S.O.S," opens with air-raid sirens alerting us to crisis at hand: "There's a love, love, love emergency." Those sirens soon become ambient-flavored dancefloor beats and its Donna Summer warning us of that sunset strip of sin all over again over a bouncing production that keeps it's vocals in check (this time featuring another somewhat unknown, Romuald Lauverjon: the highest profile that Woman gets is Zoot Woman frontman, Johnny Blake who features on the "Audio Video Disco"-esque "Stop."
The 70s that Justice explore in Woman is more varied than that Saturday Night Fever-hinting write up might lead you to believe. One of the singles, "Alakazam !" drifts into Gary Numan territory, something that hasn't happened in contemporary dance, I don't think, since "Where's Your Head At." So, that's nice. Another joyous number "Randy," is pitch-perfect Impala, though I wouldn't be surprised if the French twosome had it in the freezer years before Currents came out.
It's a good sound and it's out now.
Watch some good feeling good people get their groove on, in a suspiciously underground-looking club, to "Alakazam !"