The Djangos' return fights anxious lyrics with eclectic pop
In astrology, Saturn is associated with death, discipline and facing down your fears. As planets go it’s kind of a buzzkill, but here’s the thing: if you do right by Saturn, it’ll do right by you. The trick is to know your strengths and play to them.
Such is the star-crossed premise for ‘Born Under Saturn’, Django Django’s follow-up to their Mercury-nominated debut of 2012. That self-titled record – an eccentric, inventively lo-fi affair that bandleader David Maclean wrote while “pottering around in [his] pyjamas” at home – was a surprise hit, but now the London-based quartet must look to recapture its playful spirit with the stakes raised.
Throughout the album, which abounds with images of a difficult rebirth, there’s a sense of a band putting on a brave front to stave off a lurking sense of anxiety. “Take it back to the start!” goes ‘Giant’, which kicks things off in measured, confident fashion, booming piano chords crashing up against a locomotive, baggy-esque beat. Similarly, the weight of the world bears down on ‘Shake And Tremble’ (“Holding back the ocean/Just enough to say a word”), which revisits the ’50s rock’n’roll vibes of oldie ‘Life’s A Beach’ to mostly winning effect, and the excellent ‘Found You’ (“I’ve heard my name spoken in vain so many times”), which sounds like The Stone Roses breaking out into a cold-turkey sweat.
Missteps arise when Django Django put a tentative foot on the dancefloor: ‘Pause Repeat’ is the sort of indie-house clunker Hot Chip would run a mile from, and ‘Reflections’’ cheesy piano uplift makes for an iffy one-two that threatens to derail the record’s middle portion.
But the record rallies when the Djangos rein in some of their scattergun tendencies: ‘Shot Down’’s darkwave electro opens out naturally into the record’s most anthemic chorus, and ‘Beginning To Fade’ is a lovely waltz-time ballad that allows the group’s occasionally grating ecelcticism room to breathe – you could imagine it on a Jack White solo record, at a pinch.
It definitely ain’t perfect, then, but in concocting a scrubbed-up, carefully wrought maturation of their sound, ‘Born Under Saturn’ gives us something close to Django Django unchained.
Director: David Maclean
Record label: Because Music
Release date: 04 May, 2015