The fact that this album is self-titled makes the headline for this post look like a bit of a joke, doesn’t it. How many Djangos does one album title need, after all.
Anyhow, at the risk of repeating a little bit too much of this week’s podcast, these guys have been described in a few places, somewhat tenuously, as an Edinburgh band. It’s a nice thought, but while they did indeed emerge, to the best of my knowledge, from the Edinburgh College of Art, I think they’re now based in London and have released their debut album on a French label, so I think it’s a bit of a stretch to refer to them as an Edinburgh band in any meaningful sense.
Add to that the fact their latest tour includes dates in Nottingham and fucking Norwich, but not Edinburgh, and I think we can say pretty conclusively that the band have moved on. Which is a shame, because they’re very good, and given I had to miss their recent Sneaky Pete’s appearance I would really like to see them live again.
Funnily enough, I actually interviewed these guys at Homegame a couple of years ago, but an IT disaster meant that I couldn’t actually publish anything worthy of the name, unfortunately. They were interesting people to talk to though, very thoughtful and considered, and they seemed remarkably focussed and together for a bunch of musicians.
Since then, when their first two singles made such a splash, they’ve been so very quiet that I have to confess I half wondered if they might have been stuttering a little, but it appears that this is very much not the case, as their debut album was released last week, and it’s bloody ace.
The most obvious comparison to the Djangos’ sound would be The Bees, who were briefly huge about seven or eight years ago, with a similar brand of rhythmic pop music which seemed to draw its influences from all over the place. Speaking to the band during the Amazing Self-deleting Interview, I remember them referring to this as one of the great things about the internet era – the fact that bands no longer needed to draw their influences from such narrow fields, as absolutely anything and everything was out there waiting to be explored and absorbed.
From all these influences, Django Django make what is indisputably best described in no more a convoluted way than ‘pop music’. As experimental as some of the sounds are, the result has a relentlessly danceable rhythm, and a sense of energetic playfulness which is impossible to ignore.
Interestingly enough, whilst they’ve included all four songs from their previous double A-side 7″s, all four songs have been relegated to the second half of the album, as if to make the statement that after a year or two of relative quiet, they are not just returning to flog the last gasps of credit from relatively old material, which I think is a good decision.
Having done that, however, I would suggest that they have slightly fallen into the trap of packing the album with pop songs, somewhat at the expense of the feel of the record as a whole. Whilst it’s good to release double A-side singles, rather than implying that really only one of the songs is worthwhile and the other will do, this approach doesn’t work as well on an album.
If I had a criticism of this it would be that every song on it sounds like an A-side, so by the end of the record it becomes a little wearying, and I think it could have done with a couple of more marked changes in pace, be they an instrumental here and there, or something a little more dreamy or melancholic, just to break the atmosphere a little and offset the relentless cheerfulness of the rest of the music. Recent single Waveforms comes closest to fulfilling this function, but I don’t personally find the change quite significant enough to really break the mood and get me ready for the second half of the album.
Nevertheless, this is a highly enjoyable album of joyful, mischievous pop songs and very welcome return from one of the few bands around who actually make me feel like dancing. Dancing badly, I’ll grant you, but that’s still a significant achievement for a sulky old stick in the mud like myself.
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