Should it really come as a surprise that a band whose name is the same thing twice may have a dual identity? It’s a multifaceted personality a lot of bands with synths have displayed before: on the one hand, they’re intellectuals keen on dissecting life and sharing their observations over a predominantly electronic backdrop, and, on the other, they just want to get up and dance. This is as true on their new release Born Under Saturn as it was on their debut.
Django Django is simultaneously more thought-provoking and more catchy than a lot of popular EDM or club music, the first feat an easy one and the second much more of a melodic coup. They beat popular electronic music at its own game with their debut, and their second album adds the joy of revelry to the sound of revelation they’ve had since the beginning. To be fair, they’re more a “you don’t have to spend a ton of time with this to like it” version of Animal Collective than they are a challenging variant of something you’d hear at EDC. But just because they’re accessible from the first play doesn’t mean there’s any drop-off in quality the more you listen.
Music with synths can easily head into ambient territory, but if that’s what you go in for, this isn’t the album for you. It’s a record where every instrumental and vocal line would make you turn your head even if it was isolated. To stack so many immediate attention-grabbers next to each other in the course of the same song could lead to a boring second listen. Fortunately, they’ve perfected their process of chemical precision: the fluids in their beakers impressively explode only to settle as the cure for sonic malaise. You’ll bop your head the first time and admire this record’s lasting impact for many listens after it.
Part of that has to do with the fact Django Django know their history. There are moments of Pink Floyd, Primal Scream and Panda Bear, new wave and dark wave, sprightly “Just Can’t Get Enough” Depeche Mode and gothic “Here is the House” Depeche Mode. On Born Under Saturn, the vocals embrace the drones of psychedelia while the instrumentation accompanies them with all sorts of different backdrops, all the while sounding like a glove fit especially for the year 2015.
Of course, there are lots of bands cultivating the same general aesthetic as Django Django. There’s still some way in which they keep every song they’ve recorded and released on this album from sounding like a direct ripoff. For instance, the slowed-down vocal break on opening track “Giant” sounds a lot like something which could be on Tame Impala’s Lonerism but the preceding and proceeding verses and instrumentation stay in a territory belonging just to them. The same goes for any other occasional ducks down paths mapped out by other bands throughout the record.
Born Under Saturn proves Django Django still has all their ducks in a row three years after their debut self-titled record. They’re still making music as well-suited to dance clubs as to solitary psychedelic journeying. It’s extroverted music for introverts and it’s introverted music for extroverts; it can get the people already moving to slow down and think at the same time it’s making the wallflowers finally get out underneath the lights and let loose. Only a band that sounds like Kraftwerk on magic mushrooms could accomplish such far reaching goals.