Like the Strokes in 2001, Justice's 2007 arrival signified a paradigm shift in their genre. EDM listeners could now be nostalgic for a non-existent time because the Parisian duo, like the New York rock quintet, are a pastiche of musical and sartorial elements old and new. This, their second outing, is also not unlike the Strokes' Room On Fire in that it represents no great leap forward, but merely a refinement standing in the shadow of its predecessor's impact. That said, Audio is still fantastic. Built with only three keyboards and a guitar, the album features steam-punk victory rock ("Horsepower"), training-montage guitar/synth jams ("Canon"), and killer pop cuts ("Civilization" and "On'n'on"). The title track feels like both a theme for a 1980s children's science program and an upbeat homage to Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity." Unlike the Strokes, Justice seem to be deliberately underplaying their hand, taking twice as many years to deliver a record only slightly longer. They know their abrasive, low-tech marriage of synths, guitars, and beats is polarizing and shouldn't wear out its welcome. Even so, no one else is combining Freddie Mercury-esque vocal stacks, '70s disco beats, '80s guitar swagger, and '90s synth blasts into such a pristine post-millenial package.
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
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