Release Date: Jan 30, 2012
Record label: Ribbon Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic
Those worried that British guitar music has lost its ability to refresh old forms should pay heed to Django Django, whose debut album posits an updated psychedelia that beguiles and delights. Their foundations are a rickety, minimal take on the music of the immediate pre-psychedelic era – Hail Bop employs heavily tremeloed surf guitar; Default takes Bo Diddley's shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits beat and bolts on a jerky R&B guitar line – over which are laid skittering electronics and bleached, vibratoless harmonies, as if Django Django's four members were supplicants worshipping the desert sunrise. Yet it's also an exercise in clever restraint: drummer and band mastermind David Maclean often eschews everything bar his kick drum, floor tom, cymbals and tambourines, creating an amniotic throb.
Django Django’s self-titled debut begins ominously, with a two-minute introductory track full of brooding synth that sounds like it was taken from a futuristic, dystopian ‘80s movie. An undergrowth of naturalistic jungle effects bubbles up out of nowhere, and heavy toms roll in later in case there wasn’t enough drama building already. The tension flows seamlessly into the album’s first proper track, “Hail Bop,” eventually leveling out with chiming guitar, springy bass and airy, in-the-clouds vocal harmonies that make you forget it all grew organically out of the album’s sinister first couple of minutes.
Django Django’s self titled debut is a bit of an enigma. The album begins with a pounding introduction, led by thumping drums and big keyboards. It immediately precedes an excellent song about a comet, which is followed by songs about hangovers, the origin of man, and god knows what else. It may sound strange just for the sake of strange, but it’s anything but.
Django Django, so good they named themselves twice - then twice again, with this self-titled debut - have festered in self imposed exile for years now, playing the waiting game after releasing their double A-side ‘Love’s Dart'/'Storm’ back in 2009. A time consuming gamble, usually only afforded to the ‘talent’ bankrolled by philanthropic record executives in return for a writing credit and bi-monthly hand-jobs. So for an independent label to afford such breathing space is a good indication that the band have something worth cultivating.
[a]Django Django[/a] are four men who, among many other things, play guitars, drums, bass, and sing. This is pretty much the only thing they’ve got in common with any other emerging British band right now. We say ‘emerging’, but the Edinburgh art-pop foursome first started garnering new band fizz in 2009. A three-year gestation of hype to album delivery would normally be as fatal to a band as their singer being run over by an articulated truck, but Django Django have emerged from their pupal stage showing off a blinding array of colours, and their debut album takes flight bound for somewhere new.It’s not, though, somewhere entirely without precedent.
Django Django’s self-titled debut is full of natural and synthetic sounds that are blended with an unnatural ease. A synth-filled beats swings in. A cricket chirps. Guitar riffs churn. People howl. The result is a vibrant 13-song album that is overlaid with chanted lyrics that sometimes turn dull ….
The artwork for Edinburgh-via-London band Django Django's eponymous debut perfectly sums up the record's basic contrast: the clash of the dustbowl against some futuristic, swirling alien presence. Prairie guitars with heavy-thumbed top strings sidestep and shuffle around chirruping synthesizers, sonar-shaky womps, and krautrock plains in a fashion not dissimilar to Beck's more recent releases. However, one of the joys of Django Django is that even though it's rendered in two basic colors-- natural and synthetic-- the scenarios it conjures are significantly more multifaceted.
Reviewing a record that has been out for a year has its complications. Django Django, the eponymous debut album, was released in the United Kingdom in January 2012. There was an immediate buzz about the experimental synth band. The disc reached number 33 on the UK album charts during its first week of release.
If the Beach Boys wrote the score for a spaghetti western set in a 50s vision of the future, it might sound something like this buoyant debut album by London-dwelling art-school graduates Django Django. Borderline silly at times, it is nonetheless a carefully crafted piece of work with a distinctive sound. Incongruous influences and production techniques are brought into harmony with seeming ease on upbeat numbers such as "Hail Bop".
The Beach Boys are the ultimate soundtrack to the summer, their sunny harmonies just begging to be heard while driving to the sand, the windows and roof rolled down. Django Django’s harmonic stylings, on the other hand, would be better suited for cruising in a convertible through space itself (if only such a thing were possible). Transporting the beachy vibe into the future is just one facet of the madcap universe this Edinburgh quartet constructed on their self-titled debut.
A proposition to confound expectations of what an ‘indie’ band should be. Mike Diver 2012 Begone, indie-is-dead doom-mongers! As east London-based, Edinburgh-formed four-piece Django Django prove on this thrilling debut long-play platter, there’s life in the old dogged-by-disdain genre yet. Smart but not showy, clever but never at the expense of a catchy hook, this is ‘indie’ par excellence: guitars that ring through the mix like a clarion call from the inspired to take up arms against the dunderheaded legions of lad-rockers; buzzing synths that swirl around like a cloud of friendly wasps; lyrics delivered in mantras, summoning forth similar sermons to those once purveyed by the mighty Beta Band.
Really, there is no way to describe Dalston via Edinburgh’s Django Django other than ‘quirky. ’ Apparently taking their name from Django Reindhart’s stuttering teacher, who struggled to call the legend’s name on the register, the quartet is made all the more intriguing due to their sudden disappearance after debut single ‘Storm,’ only reappearing three years later. Live, they’re just as ‘odd’: cheaply made visual aids matched by their attire’s quirk – one of their more interesting shows being a support slot for Mr Motivator.
Everyone's fairly relaxed about the whole originality/influences question nowadays, aren't they? Sounding a bit like other bands: it's basically OK as long as you're good. But just sometimes... it still jars. Why it should seem fine for Howler to sound so like The Strokes and TOY to sound like The Horrors and Ride, but somehow seem like a bit of a scam for Django Django to occasionally sound so like The Beta Band that they're very nearly a Gamma Group? Perhaps because the Beta Band were such an odd little anomaly at the time, whereas those other groups stand in a long evolution of guitar music in which borrowing and adaptation is the norm...