Justice: Hyperdrama (Ed Banger/Because) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 26th, 2024  

Justice

Hyperdrama

Ed Banger/Because

May 14, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Don’t be fooled by the title: Hyperdrama is the most calm and organized Justice have ever been. From its pristine, detailed artwork of metallic organs and innards glowing in a glass cross, to its specifically curated cadre of featured guests—all who slot effortlessly into Justice’s galactic sound—this record is the work of a duo who aren’t just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. Rather, it’s largely an album with a high-definition sheen: less sonic distortion than their previous output, more sleek grooves. Justice’s fourth studio album is certainly electric and loud, but it’s no disordered mess.

The cinematic gloss of Hyperdrama will likely divide opinion. For those partial to the clean execution of, for instance, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories or Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush, there’ll be a lot to like. For anyone hoping for the sweaty, unabashed style of Justice’s early work, it might take a while to settle into the world of Hyperdrama. For this listener, the retooled sound is satisfying enough. Sure, some of the tracks struggle a little under more confined, tight parameters than Justice usually operate (“Afterimage,” for instance, will likely feel too still and polite for fans of Justice’s more uninhibited material), but when the duo mesh a polished songcrafting approach with their keen understanding of rhythm and electro house, the record really shines.

“One Night/All Night,” for example, hits all the right marks. It gives the silky vocals of featured guest Kevin Parker (of the aforementioned Tame Impala) a perfect home on a moody, oscillating disco production, which knows just when to simmer, and just when to pop. “Incognito” is another success, futuristic and neon, it sounds like a bolt of electricity colliding around a metal box, and executes the album’s core philosophy of controlled galvanism excellently.

It’s no surprise that Justice are capable of making memorable and lovable songs. Their knack for warping and distorting beats and basslines into something distinctive and addictive are why songs like “Genesis” and “We Are Your Friends” are still staples on almost any indie sleaze and electronic 2000s playlists that you’ll find on streaming sites. It’s when this skill of interesting track construction is outweighed by Justice’s desire to deliver something neat and tidy that the record falters.

A handful of the songs struggle to expand beyond their first few beats and end up sounding somewhat aimless, like Justice are simply demonstrating their new sound rather than doing anything playful with it. “Dear Alan” somersaults in a lot of different directions, but doesn’t end up anywhere particularly edifying. Meanwhile, “Explorer” and “Muscle Memory” are glitchy, staccato songs that both build toward nothing in particular, and definitively slow down the album’s movement, being placed back-to-back on the tracklist.

These missteps mean that once we get to the finale (the perfectly satisfying “The End,” featuring a typically entrancing vocal from Thundercat), the album as a whole feels incomplete. It’s slightly frustrating, as Justice have the kind of rebellious and energizing spirit that makes you crave a fully fleshed out, all-killer-no-filler record from them. There’s plenty of good songs on the record, and it’s at least exciting that Justice are still intent on experimenting and dodging expectations, but were some of its tracks are executed with a little more zest, Hyperdrama could have been a truly great album. (www.justice.church)

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10



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