One of the more exciting bands to emerge from 2012, but are they worthy of all the acclaim?
Based: Edinburgh, Scotland
Listen to: The Self-titled debut album
For Fans Of: The Beta Band, The Phantom Band
It’s around this time of year that journalists, magazines, record stores and bloggers all compile their end of year lists, as the past twelve month’s finest albums earn reassessment and extra praise. Chances are you’ll be seeing Edinburgh, Scotland’s Django Django on every other publication’s good books.
On face value it’s easy to see why this four-piece - signed to Because Music (Jarvis Cocker, Metronomy) - fall into the camp of critical acclaim. There’s a penchant for experimentation that’s due applause by merit, mixed with an all-encompassing pop sound, referencing The Beach Boys and The Beta Band in equal measure. In fact the similarities to the latter are so distinct that Quietus reviewer Emily Mackay labelled them “The Gamma Group” in a review of the band’s eponymous debut album.
But underlying all the showy flashes of musical brilliance is an appreciation for the simplicity of rock music. Rather than stumbling on its own self-indulgence, showing-off is shunned in favour of penning an accessible pop song. Django Django’s debut received a Mercury Prize nomination (only to be pipped to the honour by the equally fascinating Alt-J) and its inevitable end-of-year recognition because of the likes of ‘Default’ and ‘Hail Bop’ and their ability to shun all your predisposed expectations. It somehow defies pigeonholing, appealing to Radio 2, 6 Music and XFM listeners in equal measure.
That’s not to label Django Django’s debut as an inoffensive, all-too-accessible work. Make no mistake, it pushes boundaries: ‘Firewater’ is seemingly bereft of a chorus, but its finely-tuned backdrop of acoustic guitars and clapping percussion draw you into its lurking grasp. ‘Wor’ commences with thirty-seconds of faintly strummed guitars that you might otherwise associate with Dirty Harry flicks and Mid West sequences. Then enters a war siren, before the whole piece builds into a climactic frenzy of jawdropping musicianship.
The four members make the most of their resources and on your average Django Django live outing you’re bound to see the group swapping instruments, diving underneath mixing desks and twiddling all kinds of electronic gadgets your eyes have never before encountered. This is where they begin to break free from their Beta Band associations, adding a modern twist to a revivalist movement. Many bands can be accused of paying too much respect to their prime inspirations, where homage becomes haphazard reinterpretations. But Django Django do just enough to surge out of this black hole, providing a sound both refreshing and previously well-documented by bands of old.
This debut was three years in the making, so you’ve some time to immerse yourself in the group’s first work, we imagine, before they return with their second tour de force. If you grew up adoring the Beta Band and don’t want any newcomers tainting a sound beloved, or even if you haven’t the faintest idea of who the Beta Band were, Django Django will expand your musical pallette with aplomb, with a debut that’s every bit deserving of the endless stream of acclaim it’s receiving.