Album Review: Django Django – Marble Skies

By on Monday, 22nd January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Django Django Marble Skies album coverBack in 2012, Edinburgh art school synth and percussion geeks Django Django were nominated for the Mercury Prize for their eponymous album. Lovably off-kilter, ‘Django Django’ was quickly and voraciously gobbled up by music lovers everywhere, including myself. No-one at the time was doing anything like ‘Default’ and ‘Love’s Dart’. Memorably for this music editor, the Django Django mania came to a crescendo in an uncomfortable, packed, sweaty Blind Tiger in Brighton to close out night 2 during The Great Escape 2012. Joined by some friends and about 6 years later, the Scots have returned with their third album, ‘Marble Skies’, which sees them stepping out of their former boxes (wait a minute, did they even have boxes?) and in a few different directions.

The title track starts the LP off in fine fashion, with synth notes hit in precision and an irrepressible drumbeat provided by Metronomy’s Anna Prior. Vincent Neff’s vocals are, as ever, catchy. “Take us as we are, we have gone too far…we are following marble skies”, he sings. It sets the stage to make us wonder what these marble skies are, and why are Django Django (and ultimately, we, too) are chasing them? Is a journey to salvation or a fool’s errand?

Speaking of a fool’s errand, in case you missed it, the promo video for early single ‘Tic Tac Toe’ (review here) sees Neff running around Hastings in search of the all-important milk needed for a cup of tea. The song, like ‘Marble Skies’ itself, reminds us that these Scots know their way around a catchy pop track. Another early teaser, the Erasure-inspired ‘In Your Beat’, is further proof of this. ‘Real Gone’ later in the tracklisting continues the New Wave feel with an even more frenetic pace. When Neff channels a Sixties-era Roger McGuinn on ‘Champagne’ and ‘Further’ – both songs showing a strange preoccupation with trees – the results are still largely successful.

‘Marble Skies’ features two collaborations that may give a clue to Django Django’s future. The buoyantly brilliant ‘Surface to Air’ features a female guest vocal from Rebecca Taylor, most famously known as the female half of Sheffield’s Slow Club. Her first single last year ‘Your Wife’ as solo artist Self Esteem was produced by the Djangos’ drummer Dave MacLean, so a collaboration now seems natural. I do wonder, though, if Taylor is so effective as a singer to Django Django’s instrumentation, does this mean a side project with her at the front going to bud off from this album? Or is this simply a one-off?

‘Sundials’ is another departure from form, this time for its cowriter Jan Hammer, the composer of the Miami Vice theme song and ‘Crockett’s Theme’. Sadly, ‘Sundials’ doesn’t throw you on a Floridian beach, as it’s a more subdued affair, more breathy and less frenetic than you might like. Still, it works as a moment to catch your breath from what is collectively an enjoyable mish-mash of styles and sounds. ‘Marble Skies’ also makes the case that Django Django’s return to the live stage will be an exciting one.

8.5/10

Django Django’s third album ‘Marble Skies’ will be out on the 26th of January on Because Music. Starting later this month, their upcoming live in-store appearances and proper shows in the UK are listed on their Facebook. Bassist Jimmy Dixon and drummer/producer Dave MacLean were in conversation with BBC 6 Music’s Stuart Maconie on the 12th of January, you can listen back to that interview on the 6 Music Web site through here (scroll forward to the 1 hour, 30 minute mark). For more on Django Django here on TGTF, follow us this way.

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