A dream of the psychedelic tropics
[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. The major inspiration on ‘Django Django’ would appear to be the works of The Beta Band. Yup, for some bands The Libertines are Day One. For others it’s the Stones. For Django Django, it’s the now-defunct Scottish indie semi-legends who were as much characterised by their muddy, spliff-friendly tones as their intrepid, far-sighted eclecticism.
Funnily enough, there is a family connection – Django bandleader David Maclean is the younger brother of Betas keyboardist John Maclean. Even so, they’ve moved on from their predecessors’ sofa-bound outlook on life. The rootsy acoustic scrapes, sneaker-shuffling rhythms, echo-slung vocals – all Beta trademarks. But Django make an itchy, Vitamin D-saturated music that grabs hold of their inner stoner, hauls him off the settee and catapults him out into the blazing sunshine.
We begin with ‘Hail Bop’, a baffling mix of tribal drums, electro-whooshes and cowboy whistles and cricket chirrups. This gives way to the kind of irresistible chant-chorus that peppers the entire album, and ensures that, as far as envelopes are being pushed stylistically, the finished product always hits your lap sounding dead-on immediate. There are echoes of Hot Chip in ‘Hand Of Man’, while ‘Love’s Dart’ is drum machine-bedded acoustic fingerpicking sliced from the most tender parts of Gruff Rhys’ brain. Out in front, though, is the Tarantino-theme-via-Calexico bounce of ‘Life’s A Beach’ – as immediate an anthem as you’re going to get from a band who clearly have the attention span of month-old puppies. It’s an album characterised by its sharp stylistic swerves, but never feels jumbled or incoherent.
It’s a dream of the psychedelic tropics, a heady explosion of colours, an album that takes what it means to be ‘in an indie band’ and gives it a good shake. Time to pay a visit.