Django Django – ‘Born Under Saturn’

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.