Django Django’s self titled debut album showed them off as a band who poured all their influences – from their harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys to their love of dabbling in electronic music – into a big pool and created some invigorating results. ‘Django Django’ had mountains of personality that was filled with songs that stuck in the back of your head like glue and refused to let go. For their second album, they’ve decided to push themselves somewhat into showing the world what the band can do when they try and go other ways sonically.
‘Born Under Saturn’ is what happens when a highly anticipated Sophomore album comes that demonstrates what some bands do when they have an idiosyncratic style yet they don’t want to replicate it. The band’s dabblings in electronic music have been toned down an awful lot on this album and now sees more live instrumentation taking its place in the forefront of the mixing. The piano chords on the opening track to the album, ‘Giant’ or the way in which they use Caribbean rhythms and percussion on tracks like ‘Vibrations’ are both ways showing how Django Django are changing. Unfortunately it’s a lot less of an enjoyable experience.
The care-free essence of their debut album is lost on this ‘Born Under Saturn’, they’ve taken away the brilliant sonic pallet from their first album and have replaced it with one that sounds dull and lifeless. It feels as though they’ve focused so much on showing the world what they can branch out and do and have forgotten to give many of these tracks a proper soul like they had on their debut. For every time they manage to explore and hit the nail on the head on tracks like the flamboyant ‘4000 Years’ or the way in which they take influence from surf-guitars on ‘Shake and Tremble’, there’s a moment that’ll ruin it such as the song ‘Pause Repeat’ which is the closest they’ve come to making a dull pop song.
The songs loosely tie into themes of Saturn and the themes of rebirth that surround it but they’re never fully explored. They seem to merely gloss over everything. This is made worse by the fact that their most enjoyable asset as a band – their vocal harmonies – draw all the attention away from their lyrics onto the surface. Their vocal harmonies sound like the sort of thing that they’ve worked on together as a band for quite some time, channelling their ever growing influence of The Beach Boys. But even these sometimes lack in the energy they need to succeed such as the song ‘High Moon’ which has vocals that genuinely sound bored in spots.
It’s funny that the most enjoyable moments on this album are when they sound like their previous self. ‘Break The Glass’ is a moment that really shows them off as having that energy of their first album. Moments like this show up every now and again within songs but they very rarely create anything that truly captures your imagination. The album title suggests reaching for the stars, but the execution has them more grounded and ordinary than before.
Best Tracks: Break The Glass, 4000 Years, Shake and Tremble