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Ear buds busted? You might think so after pumping Justice's acid-washed dance-dirge through your iPod. The French duo have delivered a highly charged debut album where keyboards squeal like broken blow-dryers, and drum machines get fried to a digital crisp. Underneath this holy mess lies the best electronic music album you're likely to hear in 2007.

The pair -- Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay -- have emerged as the premier act on Ed Banger Records, a much-blogged-about coterie of Parisians making mangled dance music equally inspired by heavy metal and Daft Punk. No surprise actually, that much of "Cross" could pass for the new Daft Punk album, thanks to Justice's ability to buttress their black-denim aesthetic with such pleasing polyester bass lines. (The slap-happy bass guitar on "Genesis" would make Rick James proud).

But will the feel-good funk of "D.A.N.C.E." make Michael Jackson blush? The song is a wry homage to the gloved one, with a children's chorus appropriating the lyrics to Jackson hits "P.Y.T." and "Working Day and Night" over a cool, disco groove. "Do the dance / The way you move is a mystery," the kiddies chant sweetly over the chorus. "Waters of Nazareth" doesn't have such a sense a of humor, favoring bludgeoning bass lines and hissing high-hats. As the song reaches its anarchic apogee, the beat drops out to make room for a moaning church organ.

If that doesn't make you a believer, check out "Stress." It finds the duo exploring even more extreme terrain, as they juggle manic string arrangements, air-raid sirens, some harpsichord noodling and a terrifying dentist-drill solo. Against all odds, it compels you to dance and reminds you to floss.

-- Chris Richards

DOWNLOAD THESE: "D.A.N.C.E.," "Waters of Nazareth," "Stress"

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