So how do a bunch of thrash metal fans that create electronic music kick off an album? Well given that they call themselves Justice and their album is called, simply, † (pronounced 'cross'), it comes as little surprise that things start with an opening track entitled 'Genesis'. From the very outset † sounds like it is determined to destroy your soundsystem and possibly whatever fragile friendship you have with your neighbours, throwing out nasty basslines and pounding drums - this cries out to be played loudly in the car.
'Let There Be Light' continues the theme before distortion gives way to those funky shouting kids on 'D.A.N.C.E', which provides the natural relief one would expect - a sun ray through the clouds, it continues to sound as commercial and damn catchy as ever, but benefits even more from its context on †, the guilty pleasure you'll want to flip straight back to after the album closes.
The Daft Punk influences are never far from view, as demonstrated by 'New Jack', a distorted yet funky freak-out with cut-up vocals. Those familiar with Ed Banger Records' label compilation Ed Rec 2 will know what to expect from 'Phantom Part I', another instrumental distorted funk-fueled breakdown that gradually sounds like it is falling apart until it comes back to life in the form of 'Phantom Part II', a phoenix from the flames that ups the funk with some strings and a little more space.
'Valentine' is exactly the type of slightly camp French electro-wizardry one would expect of Daft Punk, almost reminiscent of 'Veridis Quo' from their one Discovery album. 'The Party' introduces the absolutely wonderful Uffie to the masses. It's fun, adorable and possibly the first thing that Uffie's lent her vocals to that could actually get played on the radio. In fact 'The Party' could just be the laid back sound of the summer and like 'D.A.N.C.E' it acts as a natural counterpoint to the rest of the album.
'DVNO' is fresh filtered vocal house that sounds like the sort of thing Daft Punk should be doing. Again, it's relatively commercial and radio friendly yet retains a spiky enough edge to keep the fans happy.
†'s closing quarter kicks off with 'Stress', sounding like a hand grenade to the face. Huge whirling synths encircle strings whilst the basslines build to the point of spontaneous combustion, at which point the sirens kicks off. 'Stress' is the realization of all of Justice's experiments in downright nasty distortion and as potentially the biggest dancefloor record here it will tear the roof of any club that plays it. You have been warned.
Former single, 'Waters of Nazareth' keeps the volume levels up with its trademark filthy cut-up bassline. In retrospect 'Waters of Nazareth' pretty much sounds like a mission plan for this album, a watershed from the slightly thin sounding (now at least) 'Never Be Alone' (which doesn't appear here). Things draw to a close with the surprisingly down-tempo 'One Minute To Midnight', a nice chunky bass workout that sounds like it wants to be a gansta rap metal record.
† may disappoint some people. It isn't quite as nose-bleed inducing as it could be and there are several rather commercial tracks. BlackPlastic argues that this is no bad thing - if anyone can shake up pop music a little bit it's the Ed Banger crew. We need Uffie on MTV and we need SebAstian remixing Girls Aloud and this record just might help to achieve that. What's more, as a whole † is a killer album with some skull-rupturing climaxes and has done what Daft Punk have been unable to in two albums. When it's in full swing † is so epic it feels like giving birth to He-Man.
On a related note the video for 'D.A.N.C.E' is on YouTube and is rather awesome. Take a look: