From embracing French House at its ultimate level on † to mixing it with a prog rock style on Audio, Video, Disco, Justice’s music has been heading in a strange direction. Starting as one of the strongest house groups in the French electronic scene, it was disheartening to many when their second offering fooled with their formula and didn’t offer anything of substance to replace it. More than anything, Woman feels like it’s attempting to fix these issues and offer something consistent and meaningful in its place.
Justice aim for their roots on songs like Alakazam and Chorus, re-incorporating their house sound without attempting to pair it with rock or any other similar sorts of genres. They’re five to seven minute cuts, as are most of the songs on the album, but these in particular never drag or seem to lose their lustre even as they stick to their guns and follow the repetitive structure we’ve come to expect from Justice. With ten tracks clocking in at just under an hour, it’s got the quantity even if its tracklist sits at a rather short number, though its quality doesn’t always match up to these moments.
The remaining eight cuts, which tone down the house factor to a larger degree, all face their own problems. Mostly, it comes from the songs being too long for their own good; while the long length lends itself well to house music, the simpler cuts with less abrasive energy to them don’t take it anywhere near as well. Love S.O.S is the biggest offender, with its repetitive siren effects turning a decent song into a complete annoyance, while Heavy Metal’s build-up with no pay-off and the great arrangement but unbearable length of Fire showcasing different issues that it runs into. The songs are made long for the sake of it, with their listenability coming as the second most important factor rather than the first, and unfortunately the entire album suffers for it.
With a few different production choices and a few minutes cut off of each song—Alakazam and Chorus being the exception here—Woman could have been a much easier album to listen to. Justice run into an entirely different set of issues here than they did on Audio, Video, Disco, but meet the same end point, albeit much less messy in this case. Rather than being a return to form, Woman shows that Justice are still trying to figure out where they sit in terms of their sound.