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Change The Record: Justice – Hyperdrama

Just like how Christ was crucified for the sins of humanity, so too was Daft Punk crucified, for the sins of French House. 11 years from their last album and that beautiful bassy hole in our hearts needed to be filled by someone, so who could come to take the crown they’ve left? Well, the most obvious answer is the other big French House duo, Justice. They came up and promptly stepped on the crown for 13 years, but now, finally, they’ve put a hand on it.

For those wondering what I’m talking about, Justice is a French electronic duo that specializes in French House, a form of House based on samples of Funk and Disco put through a haze of edits and effects. Their 2007 debut, “Cross,” is one of the best electronic albums, not just of that year, but of all time, filled wall to wall with dense bassy bangers and catchy yet tongue-in-cheek club dance tracks. The question is, how do you follow up on a debut this good? Well, as it turns out, poorly. Their next two albums, “Audio, Video, Disco,” and “Woman,” got much colder receptions overall, feeling like cheap and hollow dives into retro synth Funk and Disco. It felt like they wanted to recreate the genres that informed the French House of the first album rather than actually just try and follow up on the French House itself. After those two blunders, they put out 2018’s “Woman Worldwide,” a fantastic if very strange release, being a remix album of assorted tracks throughout the duo’s discography. It gave me slight hope for whatever endeavor the band would go on to do in the future, but still, left me very weary. They definitely still weren’t full-on embracing the sounds of the first album, but then again, it’s been nearly 16 years since that debut, so maybe it’s on me for demanding regression of a band that’s clearly still trying new things, even as much as those new things might be floundering.

This brings us to their newest album, “Hyperdrama,” an album I made sure to have very measured expectations for. The singles for the album were amazing, with the first songs revealed, “One Night/All Night,” and “Generator,” being fantastic tracks to set up the direction this album would go in for the first half. “One Night/All Night” is one of a few Tame Impala collabs on the album. If you need a definition of a “match made in heaven,” it’s this, with these cinematic dark booming synths mixed with funky claps and main melody, garnished on top with Kevin Parker’s angelic yet ominous vocals. The other single, “Generator,” was a much more rough and hard track, calling back to some of the most banging highlights on Cross like “Waters Of Nazareth,” or “Genesis,” but updated with some modern spice. It has lovely industrial kicks and bright lights of synth near the end, though the repeating main melody throughout the track grates after a while admittedly. After that is the track “Incognito,” which is a pretty solid instrumental ditty, with the rapid and urgent synth work and the repeated choral vocals throughout the track calling to mind something like a Cyberpunk Hotline Miami. The next single is “Saturnine,” which curiously was the only single from the back half of the album, and it’s a smooth and inoffensive R’n’B track where Miguel sings his heart out, but it’s easily my least favorite of the singles. It runs a little too quietly and stays too long in the background for my taste. 

The final single was “Neverender,” which is also my favorite track on the entire album. It’s another Tame Impala collaboration, but it’s different from the previous, beautifully layered with this plinky and shiny percussion and Kevin Parker’s beautiful vocals creating a perfect core for the track to surround it with layers of synths and melodies that make it feel deep in a way that also makes it gorgeous.

That’s just the singles though, and I’ve had plenty of albums lure me in with fantastic singles before smacking me back down to reality, so how does the rest of the album fare in the assorted deep cuts? Let’s start with the lowlights first to make the good tracks even better. 

“Moonlight Rendez-vous,” is a somewhat awkward instrumental interlude with an extremely cheap-sounding electronic saxophone in the back half that makes the whole thing come off as some weird neo-noir track without the sexy mystery to it, so it just smells like cheap booze. I also didn’t really love “Explorer,” featuring Connan Mockasin. It felt like an experimental swing and a miss with Connan’s weird, awkwardly processed, nasal vocals over the very goofy rising and descending synths. It all just feels like it was made for the sake of weirdness without the ability to pull it off. 

Looking back on it, that’s all the tracks I have major complaints about. As the rest of the album is a gorgeous bounce-back for the band creatively and sonically. Barely a second of this album feels wasted on boring tracks, with everything making sure to stuff itself to the gills with instrumental layers and impressively pulled-off guest features. 

Tracks like “Afterimage” and “Mannequin Love” make the vocals feel like another layer to the instrumental palette that seamlessly blends into these intoxicating walls of sound that I could simply drown in. “Afterimage,” in particular, has the guest Rimon giving these heavenly wails to add to the beautiful futuristic vibe of this already amazing instrumental. I also loved the very progressive and funky “Dear Alan,” with its many instrumental shifts and unique phases topped off with a fantastically funky bassline. 

I also quite liked “Muscle Memory,” though I was initially kinda hesitant on the first minute or so of build up, it felt somewhat grating and slow, like ripping velcro off my ears, but it quickly blossoms into a very pretty and cinematic futuristic soundscape perfect for walking the mean streets at night. It might just be me that hears this, but I swear the synth riff at the end of the track is the same one off “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates. Of course, the album ends with the aptly titled, “The End,” featuring Thundercat, and his airy and high register vocals pair wonders with the rising synths and booming 3D-feeling core of the song. It climaxes into this wonderful flourish by the end before abruptly cutting out like I just crashed my tron bike. It serves as a fitting and appropriately dramatic sounding end for this album.

This year, in general, has been filled with great bounce back albums from several artists. While Hyperdrama certainly ain’t the best of that bunch, I would say it’s the biggest bounce back from the weak and disappointing records before it. It’s the most focused and ambitious the duo has been in a while, and it excites me for whatever they plan to do next. 

Sorry if this review didn’t have as much witty commentary as the previous ones, but that kind of just happens when the album is really that good. Still, I guess I should say something funny in the end here. Uh, plobgobble, sure.


Kate Megathlin

Hello there stranger, this is Kate Megathlin, writer for weekly music reviews for the Seattle Collegian, here to assert how much more important her opinions are than yours. She is a Seattle Central student with a major love of music and music culture, and every week she’ll try to deliver reviews of new albums coming out, if you want to recommend albums for her to review, email her at

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