French boys Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé originally got their start in the music scene playing in bad Metallica and Nirvana cover bands, and the album art of Cross makes it look like a doomy metalcore release, but the record is anything but metal. In fact, it's almost everything but metal. It's a grimy mix of dancehall, techno, '80s R&B, and lounge with Clockwork Orange synths, deadly static crunches, hard-hitting kicks, grinding groans, and a spliced Off the Wall slap-popping bass. Scattered and chopped to all hell, the songs often feel revolutionary. This is partially due to the duo's "anything goes" attitude. It's as if Justice is reacting to complacency in latter-day electronic music and seeing how far they can take their slicing and dicing before the chopped up compositions fall apart. At certain moments, samples are dissected into such little snippets that it's hard to even decipher the instrument from the clicks and pops in-between the splices. Usually when the songs unravel to this point, they suddenly halt and get reeled back in to cohesion with the sudden snapback of a fishing lure that has been swept into the rapids. Instead of using their laptops to keep their beats tight and precise, Justice uses them to shake up their songs to such a gnarled, jittery point that they sometimes sound like mistakes. These happy accidents give the tunes a humanistic touch, like futuristic beats deconstructed by cavemen. While the instrumentals are often sinister and melancholy, as if they were concocted in a cold, cavernous atmosphere (which they were, in Rosnay's basement), the tracks with vocals are perfectly designed for a hot nightclub. "DVNO" has disco handclaps and bouncy vocals that could have been ripped from Oingo Boingo, "D.A.N.C.E." is tricked out with a Go! Team double-dutch flavor, and "Ththhee Ppaarrttyy" incorporates a cute-voiced rapper coaxing her friends to get "drunk and freaky fried" over a keyboard potentially lifted from Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. At the darker end of the dance spectrum, "Stress" is an exhausting exercise in patience with a teapot whistle screaming over a tension-building Space Invaders type bassline, and "Waters of Nazareth" combines a crunchy church organ with a bottom-heavy synthesizer rolling in gravel. Admirably random samples dug up from underground sources like '70s Italian prog-rockers Goblin, combined with a reckless abandon and an adherence to melodic hooks, makes Cross one of the most interesting electro-crossovers since Ratatat, and the guys in Justice do an excellent job building on Daft Punk's innovative foundation.
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover