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Midnight Juggernauts

Released on Siberia Records 5/27/08

Not as ostentatious as Scissor Sisters nor as gritty as Justice nor as fun as Daft Punk nor as raw as The Rapture nor as interesting as much of the dance music industry, Midnight Juggernauts debut, Dystopia, doesn’t live up to the bands preordained success. The Australian band was handpicked by Justice to open a US tour, and have subsequently played with Bloc Party, Klaxons, !!! and countless other cool, adventurous dance bands. It’s hard to hear the potential when there are so many other options.

This all amounts to a cognitive letdown, as Dystopia is a snore. The formula is plain: more mid tempo dance music that fuses heavy bass, synths, refreshingly live-sounding drums, and voice. Midway through the album the title track tries to shake things up by slowing the formula down to Air-like speeds. The result is somehow less interesting. Some tracks (“Twenty Thousand Leagues” comes to mind) employ a goth-y Ian Curtis imitation -- it’s laughable. The synths flirt with the “sweeping grandeur” that’s become a cliché of the movement. Yet they too are trivialized by the tedious songwriting.

“Road To Recovery” is a sad pick for standout moment, as it just sounds exactly like a Justice song with peaking synthesizers and repetitive vocals. It’s easy to understand why so many bands wish to follow in the French duo’s glamorous footsteps: Justice is a phenomenon, their songs are great, and they pushed dance-rock over a precipice and only to find a netherworld of gleeful debauchery waiting on the other side. The problem with the Juggernauts (and any followers) is that you can’t lead people over the same edge twice.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars