Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay, the duo who make up the French dance-rock act Justice, act like rock stars. They’re not faceless DJs in a booth—like their predecessors and countrymen in Daft Punk, Auge and de Rosnay are the stars of their concerts and build booming, dramatic songs with small samples and heavily processed electric guitars, a drum machine, and fuzzy bass. So it’s not surprising that they follow their 2007 breakthrough album, †, with a live concert disc, just like rock stars did in the 1970s, and just like Daft Punk did last year. A Cross the Universe, recorded in San Francisco in September, opens like any good arena show, with audience screams and an ominous score of bass beats that grow into the throbbing house of “Genesis.” There’s even a lengthy, bottom-heavy sample of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” offered as the finale.
A Cross the Universe is essentially a greatest-hits package, with the bulk of the 18 tracks drawn from †. Where Justice remains true to its DJ roots is in the expert pacing of the 75-minute set—start from nothing, build to a throbbing climax, bring it all down, and start again. Songs are less important than sounds: The hits—”D.A.N.C.E.,” “Waters of Nazareth,” and “Phantom”—are expanded and split into two or three sections, each with a dramatic ebb and flow that’s like a full DJ set.