(Because Music, out now)
In 2012, Django Django claimed their own art-rock turf with a self-titled debut whose best bits burrowed their way deep into your brain. The album’s beats and melodies were awkward enough to be interesting but accessible enough to soundtrack adverts – the winning combo if you want to make money and have credibility. What we have in third album Marble Skies is a milder version of that. The same ingredients are all there, but the flavour doesn’t hit you as strongly.
The album’s best bits come in a mid-album quartet. Tic Tac Toe‘s space rockabilly was the right first choice of single. The sci-fi baddie intoning the title gets his hooks in you. On here it then blends nicely into the earthier, subtler strut of Further. Next track, Sundials, is the least characteristic on the album. An understated, bleep-and-glitch free, mid-paced number, it has a hint of Midlake about its melody. Beam Me Up offers Tears For Fears’ melancholy melded into 80s home computer bad guy theme music.
Some of the early electro-pop influences are pleasing too, like the spirit of Nik Kershaw found on the title track. Surface To Air‘s intro echoes Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express, before the introduction of Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor (now trading under the ridiculous name of Self Esteem) on vocals makes it feel like a different album entirely. It’s too early; as the second track, the tone hasn’t properly been established yet. Suddenly you feel you’re listening to a compilation album.
But it’s second single In Your Beat that is most symptomatic of the album’s weakness – fine in itself, but it does sound like something watered-down from their debut. Tracks like Champagne and Real Gone have the same problem – never properly getting a grip on your senses in the way DD have done previously.
Django Django have suffered the same fate that Hot Chip did. Over And Over was such a belter of a tune, everything else seemed tame by comparison. Django Django have Default hanging round them in the same way. The Chip lads ultimately found ways round it and Django Django will no doubt do likewise in time, but for now you can’t help but feel slightly deflated at the lack of progression.