Album Review: Django Django – Django Django
Django Django’s sound is difficult to define. To say that they have a sound is probably all that needs to be said, but I have been asked to write a review so I have to struggle to find words that define them. I doubt they are interested in reducing their music to a few soundbites, and they have certainly made an album which reflects that. But if I was to be pinned down on any point, I would say that vocally they sound a bit like The Beta Band, in the way that they almost chant their lyrics rather than sing them.
Track three on the album, ‘Default’, has been picked up and played a lot on 6 Music. It is a great song which has a Beach Boys rhythmic quality to it, with an unmistakably 21st century twist as the vocals are melted by computers and a vocoder to create a singular infectious, warped harmony, which is present on all the songs on the album. To be compared to The Beta Band automatically suggests that you are a band that takes risks and eludes definition in pursuit of creativity, which is, basically, a compliment. And I would say that Django Django have fulfilled the criteria needed to be associated with The Beta Band; they are fun, fresh and should quite rightly be praised for making an album that lives up to their creative ideals.
Before listening to the album, I was expecting something akin to Friendly Fires as I knew there were computers and synths involved, but thankfully, they sidestep sounding like another generic indie-dance band, of which, it seems, there are many. The feature of acoustic and blues guitars pushes them beyond what could conceivably be described as ‘dance’ but is a bit too varied and experimental to be classed as straight ‘indie’. The inclusion of piano gives them a 50s edge; the echoes and tribal sounding drums remind me a bit of Mercury Rev; and the odd bit of synth (every self- respecting East London band has to have one) aligns them with bands like Hot Chip or Errors. The comparisons are not obvious and are certainly, varied.
There are certain lyrics, as well, which have a poetic quality, such as, “You’ve used up all the lyrics of your favourite song”, which features in the track ‘Storm’. These little moments turn an album in to a pleasing whole and promise that repeated listens will hold something new and unexpected.
Songs like ‘Life’s A Beach’ go from light and frivolous to dark and heavy while ‘Skies Over Cairo’ is consistently frivolous to the point where it sounds like they improvised what they thought Egyptian music sounded like to use for a kids TV program set in Egypt. It also has a more recognisable dance feel to it with repetitive synths and an absence of guitars. I doubt they made ‘Skies Over Cairo’ with straight faces and they strike me as a band that have fun when they create music.
Django Django met at art school, which usually guarantees an almost relentless pursuit to be unique and different which can, paradoxically, make it predictable. But they have managed to balance the playful and meaningful to great effect. Is it easy listening? Perhaps not. Is it confusing to describe? Most definitely. Will it stand the test of time? I’m not so sure, but there are a few stand out tracks, number one being ‘Default’, which will stick in your head long after you’ve finished listening.
Release Date 30/01/2012 (BECAUSE)