marco dos santos

It wasn't Kanye West's most (in)famous bit of public speaking. New Orleans wasn't sinking and, well, most of America wasn't even paying attention. But when West interrupted last November's MTV Europe Music Awards to un-ironically proclaim that his clip for "Touch the Sky" should've won the fête's Best Video Prize, plenty within the pop community took note.

But behind West's grandstanding was a development too many observers, particularly North Americans, overlooked. The actual winning entry—a paralyzing collaboration between the upstart dance duo Justice and seminal British vets Simian called "We Are Your Friends"—accelerated the arrival of dance's latest crossover darlings. Justice, for the uninitiated college dropouts out there, had arrived.

A year later, the French duo (Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay) have translated their incendiary live show and enormous incandescent stage props (they're known for performing alongside a giant, illuminated three-dimensional cross) stateside, tearing through Coachella this spring while earning admiration from both warm-blooded rock elites and club circuit critics. Equally informed by thick, metallic dance blitzes as playful dance-pop, their hotly anticipated debut, Cross, pulls from the obvious French club composers (Daft Punk and their Ed Banger brothers) to folks with designs on brutally destroying those idols. It's precisely because Cross brims with dense arrangements and abrasive dance subversions that several continents of glow-stick shoppers are drawn to it. And the sonic results are undeniable. For those who can reconcile Michael Jackson-inspired arena anthems with fraying rave crashers, anyway.

Further adding to Justice's intrigue is that, to date, little is known about Augé and de Rosnay. They didn't show up at those Europe Music Awards, and weren't available to interview for this piece because of a mind-bending travel schedule that saw them visiting three continents in about as many days' time. All told, it's a curious path to Hottest Next Shit status, but it doesn't make Justice any less likely to realize it.

And they don't need masks and robot armor to make their mystique compelling. The music will do just fine.