Current indie-darlings Django Django have released their debut album in combination with a stack of interviews proclaiming their eclectic taste in music and describing this album as an expression of this variety in their music diet. There are elements of various musical genres evident throughout the album, which serve to prove they have a broad musical palette. Unfortunately, there is little other purpose for an excessively broad array of musical elements which are ultimately unrealised and appear at times to be self indulgent.
Past the introduction, opening track “Hail Bop” saunters in with cool easy-to-listen-to poppy harmonic vocals but is layered underneath with jangly guitars and synthesizers, pushing the track forwards. This model is somewhat replicated on the following track Default, but the ethereal poppy quality of the opener is replaced here with a harder edge hinting at punk sensibilities but which ultimately settles more on an abrupt indie feel (think Born Ruffians.) Firewater is again reminiscent of Born Ruffians, but will also spark nostalgia in any fans of Daddy Cool’s Eagle Rock which bears some likeness to this track.
As you would have picked up by now, if there is one group which bears a likeness to Django Django, it is Born Ruffians. The two groups share quite a bit in common between their indie-pop sensibilities and vocals. Django Django is identifiable, for better or worse, by their inclusion of varied musical elements which do give this album some personality. There is some personality exhibited that detracts from the overall feel of the album. Skies over Cairo in particular is a totally unnecessary track which only serves to interrupt the album’s flow and doesn’t contribute anything to the album. There is good music within it but it doesn’t contribute and having Egyptian sounding music in the middle of a pop-indie record does not serve any purpose other than to rub the listener’s ears in the eclecticism of their musical taste.
Additionally, there are some tracks which lack energy or commitment: Zumm Zumm, Waveforms and Silver Rays in particular add a blandness to the record that is hard to displace as the album progresses. The lack of significant lyrics, or the prevalence of lyrical cliches, sidelines these tracks leaving them insignificant, if not downright annoying. There are a number of songs which hint at the high quality songwriting and high energy performance Django Django are capable of producing. WOR and Default in particular have an intimidating feel punctuated by jagged vocals which really lift the energy of the album. Unfortunately these standout tracks are definitely the exception, though they do hint at huge potential.
Django Django are a band with a lot to offer. They are capable of producing excellent music in a range of genres. This album would be better if they could have decided more on what they wanted to sound like and focused on excelling in this genre. They have spread themselves a bit thin on their debut album but with added maturity, hopefully we will see them define their own sound more and create a truly coherent second album that focuses more on quality songs and sound than being pretentious.