Review Summary: Straight out of nowhere! The greatest thing!
And lo from the hills of old England descended a band of heroes. They sang with all the youthful jubilation of a boys choir, and they were called Django x 2. With rabid precision they tapped their keys and plucked their strings, and lo the desert was replenished.
Okay, overkill? Maybe. At the very least they’ve given music nuts something clear to look forward to. I mean can you believe this is a debut? Sure, the band’s been around since 2009, and their art school credentials tempt the eager fanboy to slap an art-pop label on them, implying some underlying musical intellectualism that could inform such seemingly instantaneous success. But art school does not beget art-pop, and this album is still a feat.
It’s clear where the material came from, but unlike the chunky been-there stews being dished out left and right by today’s floundering bands, “Django Django” is a unique brew all of its own; the fruits of a painstaking distillation process. Influences are felt in spirit rather than in melody. Hats off to Talking Heads and subsequent afro-freaks for paving the way, but they’re not trying to rewrite Once in a Lifetime.
More than anything perhaps, this album has all the semblances of a decidedly British masterpiece (think “Exile on Main Street”, “Perfect Prescription”, “Screamadelica”). Tough to crack, imitating life to the point where it almost seems ordinary, but somehow striking in all the right ways. The lyrics sketch spent landscapes and empty expanses, melding the grandeur of the natural world with the mundanity of personal struggles. But there’s always redemption. Couple all this, and some pretty consistently clever wordplay, with the guys' playful harmonies and you've got something at worst fun and at best awe-inspiring.
Herein lies a menagerie of sensory stimulants large enough to keep you browsing for a whole pleasant afternoon. This record prods you and pets you and kicks you to the ever-crackling beat, typified by the addicting "Zumm Zumm". It chimes and roars and echoes like an ancient tomb ("Firewater"). As a whole, it feels like a kind of a trippy-ish bubble bath. Some synths pop and others engulf you, but all fall into place to form something arresting. The attention to detail and obsessive embellishments come at you like the work of veterans, but these guys are just getting started. It’s less trailblazing than it is summit chasing, scrambling beautifully for the pinnacle of golden-tinged, gloriously structured psychedelia.
The most wonderful thing about this album is that Django Django clearly don’t feel that they’re better than you. This is a team effort, and they want you to come along. If acclaim like this doesn’t swell their heads, this band is gonna do things. They could be big. And when that day comes, this album will no doubt be viewed as important, even by those who pan it now.