Released 30/01/2012 - Because Records
What counts as a Scottish album? This fine début from Django Django is released on the French label Because Records, and the band have been described by NME as an ‘Edinburgh art-pop foursome’ and The Guardian as an ‘east London four-piece’. So while there is agreement on geometry, placing them geographically is a little trickier. That said, listening to the first substantive track ‘Hail Bop’ reveals a debt to Scottish indie stalwarts The Beta Band, with similarities in their fusion of pop, folk and electro. This is backed up by ‘Hand of Man’ with its interweaving of spartan drum machine and wistful harmonies. Third track ‘Default’ recalls the sound of pre-Swim Caribou, with stuttering vocals and looped samples buzzing over taut guitar hooks (see also ‘Love’s Dart’). The obvious overlap here is a certain distillation of psychedelic pop, something which Django Django develop and experiment with over the course of the album’s 13 songs.
I’ve heard comparisons being made to Brighton’s The Bees, as well as Hot Chip and The Super Furry Animals, and it is hard to disagree. Fourth track ‘Firewater’ bounces along with reverbed vocals and snappy, clappy percussion, before it culminates in 90 seconds of Dionysian haze. ‘Zumm Zumm’ is a jaunty number that sounds like 8-bit 60s psychedelia, a swirling infusion of Game Boy synth and chanted yearning. There are moments of Rockabilly too, such as ‘WOR’ and ‘Life’s a Beach’, where allusions to The Bees perhaps make the most sense. ‘Skies Over Cairo’ provides an interesting departure from the overall sound, and helps prevent the remainder of the album from a stodgy saturation of psychedelic tropes. Its interpolation of Middle Eastern scales is as one might expect for a track so named, leading to a somewhat synaesthetic conjuring of trip to (or in) that landscape.
Django Django have created an intriguing and skilfully restrained take on psychedelic rock, and although this is a fun and accessible album they also approach and deal with serious topics in their lyrics – for more on this see the band’s Track by Track commentary on the album, with a run-down of each track that gives insights into the lyrics and nicely solidifies their clear Scottish heritage. From Scotland, living in London, and signed to a French record label – it will be interesting to see where they end up next, and what the journey sounds like.
2. Hail Bop
6. Zumm Zumm
7. Hand of Man
8. Love’s Dart
11. Life’s a Beach
12. Skies Over Cairo
13. Silver Rays