The genesis of Django Django‘s fourth album comes from an old painting drummer and producer Dave MacLean found gathering dust in his parents’ attic. Created by an old art school friend and gifted to MacLean decades ago, the rediscovered painting – a surreal, warped image of an otherworldly landscape featuring a camel, a floating head and more unidentifiable weirdness – spoke to the frontman and connected with the album he and his bandmates were making. It now serves as the artwork for said album, ‘Glowing In The Dark’.
The band’s latest album, the follow-up to 2018’s ‘Marble Skies’, takes the idea of these surreal sketches and runs with them headfirst into a new and less anxious world. Like many albums being released at the moment, the record was completed in January 2020 – before You Know What happened – but, like many of the records written pre-COVID and released during the madness, it feels like an eerily prophetic forecasting of the world it would be released into.
We’d have needed escapism pre-March 2020 regardless, but this album’s modus operandi of detaching from reality here feels that little bit more vital now. Like any daydream or escapist fantasy, ‘Glowing In The Dark’ travels through endless landscapes, erratically veering from sun-drenched psych-pop (‘Right The Wrongs’) to video-game instrumental weirdness (‘The Ark’) and acoustic bliss (‘The World Will Turn’). Vitally, though, its feet never touch the ground, and the illusion is never broken.
As vocalist Vinny Neff repeats the titular phrase of ‘Free From Gravity’, beeping synths enter and feel like literal lift-off, while the appropriately-titled ‘Spirals’, which opens the album, is an immediate deep-dive into a reverb-drenched psych wonderland. On it, Neff sings of “pushing off to a place where we think we can put roots down and lay back,” and they don’t return until the funky closing statement of ‘Kick The Devil Out’ touches down 45 minutes later.
Among an album that often wonders pleasantly but somewhat aimlessly through a dreamland, two moments elevate it higher. Firstly, Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s floaty vocals on ‘Waking Up’ provide a welcome new texture. Then there’s the album’s huge, direct hammerblow of a title track. Backed by a UK garage-adjacent beat, it’s a propulsive thrash towards the dancefloor, and one to add to the ever-growing playlist of songs that are just begging to be played at festivals and in clubs, when we’re finally allowed back in those sweaty rooms. Until then, lay back and begin the journey to wherever you please.
Release date: February 12
Record label: Because Music