There are two different kinds of Justice fans: those who like † and those who like both † and Audio, Video, Disco. This break happened when the French electro duo gave the dirty, intense sounds of † a pass on their sophomore album and went for a more relaxed, refined and funkier sound with AVD. And it’s understandable why some people no longer care for the outfit, as the difference between albums is about as night and day as the saying implies. This was my most anticipated album of the year. After A Cross the Universe was released, I’ve always thought that this band was better live than recorded. No matter what camp you are in when it comes to Justice, or if you are a new listener, I implore you to give this live album a listen. Access All Arenas takes the best of both albums and rolls it all into one.
It starts off with something familiar. The intro “Genesis” is new but once it kicks in, it’s just like old times. It has some polish but it is still the tune you know and love. You’ll notice right away that while the songs contain most of what was recorded, you’re going to hear a whole lot more. Just because they left “Let There Be Lite” out of this recording doesn’t mean you won’t hear the chorus now and again throughout the album. Each track on this album has the foundation of the title, with bits of other songs masterfully sprinkled about. Two different † songs are thrown together and sometimes the albums are combined. Toward the end of “Genesis” you start to hear smattering of “Civilization,” which continues on throughout “Helix.”
AAA is a roller-coaster of an album. It starts off funky but then gets turbulent as “Phantom” kicks in. The track begins with a groovy blend of old and new but then shifts into that dirty sound that fans of their debut album know and love – especially when “Let There Be Lite” and “Civilization” are incorporated. To many, the pitfall of live albums is that the content is what you’ve heard before. If that normally detracts you, fear not; every song on this album is unlike what you’ve ever heard before, giving “New Lands” a whole new meaning.
The old standard “D.A.N.C.E.” is as good as ever, and this is arguably the best incarnation of it. As with A Cross the Universe, the one-two punch that made them famous is back. “Stress” and “Waters of Nazareth” are back in all their glory. While slightly shorter fares, these are mixes that stand up with the best of them, though the blending of songs falls short at a point during “Stress,” breaking up the intensity.
To finish up the album, you have far and away the best version of “Audio, Video, Disco.” followed by an encore of the funky “On’n’On” and the staple “Phantom Pt. II.” This most certainly ends the album on a high note. While I can’t say this one will get you quite like it does on their first live album, this was the perfect way to close out the album, successfully ending any doubt that they’ve completely abandoned their old sound.
Those like myself who highly enjoy both studio albums will love this. It is a perfect blend of both sounds and is by-and-large a return to form. I can only imagine what it’s like to see this live. Overall, this is not their finest work, but you will hear the best versions of some tracks like “Audio, Video, Disco.” This is certainly the best electronic album I have heard in 2013 so far. My only complaint is that the album is so good I find the hour-and-twenty-minute run-time to be too short. Check it out.