You know what makes Daft Punk so rad? No one knows what they look like. Don’t get me wrong—it’s way cool that they dress up like astronauts who raided Willy Wonka’s closet. But they could wear ski masks and the effect would be the same: Anonymous DJs can be trusted to rock your party, unconcerned as they are with revelers knowing their true identity.
Seeing as how they stole everything else from them (including their manager), Justice would’ve benefited from emulating this approach—that way, we’d never know that these guys are skinny, French, mustachioed hipster Nerf balls. As this hotshot debut proves, these Nerf balls are all about putting the rock back in dance music, the rock in this case approximated by a lot of distorted synths and gut-punching thwumps laid over a determined Motorik pulse. Club hit “Waters of Nazareth” is a dirty dance-floor churner, while “D.A.N.C.E.” delivers a kinky, bouncy beat underneath the obligatory staccato vocals. (Think, oh, Daft Punk.) It’s all very outsized and uppity, falling right in line with the current dictum in dance music that every song must be able to be mashed up with both Kanye West and this week’s indie-rock star—the lone exception here being the standout “Stress,” whose locust-like synths and spy-movie bassline render it too damn scary to mix with Feist. The growing army of Justice fans insist that is all sophisticated and witty and multifaceted, but it’s mainly just knuckle-headed big-tent dance music sans mystique. Shit, we already know what these dudes look like! Bummer.