Justice's Woman Worldwide is a remarkable innovation in the world of live albums. Released as something of a gift for fans of the Parisian electronic duo for the ten-year anniversary of them making and performing music, it’s a studio-recorded replication of the setlist they’ve played for their ground-breaking Woman Worldwide tour. Beginning in March of 2017, Justice has played more than 30 shows across 25 months for the tour – and it isn’t finished yet (the last show will be played in October of this year at Austin City Limits, TX).
Woman Worldwide is the culmination of all of the music Justice have ever released and performed. It’s a studio recorded mirror of the live versions of their songs from their recent world tour of the same name. Tracks from their 2007 album †, their 2011 effort A.V.D (Audio, Video, Disco.), and their most recent 2016 album Woman all feature, along with extras such as We Are Your Friends. The pair sat down in 2016, immediately after finishing Woman, and started the process of working out which of their tracks could be paired up with others to create the ultimate live performance of their body of work. Separating the tracks by tempo and key, they patched them together into the Woman Worldwide tour setlist. The live shows have evolved throughout the tour. The version of the setlist present on Woman Worldwide was not finalised until they’d been touring for almost a year.
Having been recorded and mastered in-studio, the album is now available on streaming sites everywhere. The tracks are seamlessly blended together to ensure no momentum is lost during transitions between songs, allowing you to experience the intensity of Justice’s most recent live shows – although unfortunately, you’ll miss out on their famous light displays! The album begins with Safe and Sound from 2016’s Woman. At over seven minutes long, it’s a fitting introduction to what is a particularly lengthy album (90mins). Jumping slap-basslines weave between a steady drumbeat laced with synthesised sounds, including string instruments and high-frequency keyboards, and a recurring chant.
Safe and Sound blends seamlessly with the second track, a reworked D.A.N.C.E, from their debut album. Vocals from the second track appear near the end of the first before it slips almost unnoticeably into a drum-less breakdown, with the change of songs symbolised by the piano keys chiming in on top of synth sounds and distorted vocals. The vocals from Safe and Sound show up near the end of D.A.N.C.E, too, just to take it full circle. Canon x Love S.O.S is, as the name suggests, a mashup of the thumping, shoe-melting club banger Canon from A.V.D and the slower Love S.O.S from Woman. The result is a track more than the sum of its parts. Next is Genesis x Phantom. These two bass-heavy tracks are combined to form a gritty and metallic tune that builds up to multiple peaks of sound followed by ambient lulls.
Pleasure x Newjack x Civilisation is the fifth song of the album and the first of the three ambitious three-part mashups. It’s a journey of sound, taking the listener through several different stages of intensity. Near the 4:15 mark of the song the sound is dampened, as though listening to it through water before the percussion crashes back into place as the song resumes near its conclusion. This is followed immediately by a hair-raising keyboard transition into Heavy Metal x DVNO – a confusing but exhilarating mix of high and low-intensity noise that gives you the impression of being caught up in the torrid currents of a swirling river of sound.
Stress follows up next, one of the handful of tracks to be given the honour of standalone status on this album. It’s a real rollercoaster of a song, with synth sounds, drums and bass all steadily climbing towards several climaxes of different strength and intensity followed by reprieves, shortly after which the climb begins once more. This is followed by Love S.O.S once more, this time in its pure, unadulterated form. The ninth track on Woman Worldwide is Alakazam! x Fire, of which both constituent tracks are from 2016’s Woman. The song also features vocals from Love S.O.S throughout. Waters of Nazareth x We Are your Friends combines the gritty electro sound of Justice’s hit from † with the (somewhat) more melodic remix of Simian’s track Never Be Alone to form an up-tempo, heel-shuffling behemoth of a song.
Four more standalone tracks bring Woman Worldwide to its ultimate climax. Chorus, Stop, and the cowbell-infused Randy, from Woman, are followed by Audio, Visual, Disco, from the album of the same name. The final track of the setlist and album is D.A.N.C.E x Fire x Safe and Sound. It sees the classic hit track from Justice’s first album make its second appearance, this time mixed alongside two standout tracks from Woman.
While Woman Worldwide isn’t a ground-breaking album in any sense, it is an innovative one. It doesn’t push any musical boundaries as much as it re-works old ones. The result is something that will be vastly appreciated by die-hard Justice fans and equally ignored by casual listeners. What it does, it does very well – it captures much of the intensity and atmosphere of Justice’s live shows. A lengthy, exhausting, simmering stew of electronic sound, Woman Worldwide is nevertheless a catchy and foot-tapping listen.