Django Django return with their third studio album “Marble Skies” which sees the Scottish-formed, London-based art/maths rock quartet honing their particular brand of quirky guitar-driven synth pop to reach new levels of success.
Album opener and title track “Marble Skies” begins as a minimal Kraftwerk-esque piece of uptempo electronica and soon brings in the band’s trademark jangly rock ‘n’ roll guitars to provide a frenetic hook for new listeners and a warm welcome for old fans. “Surface to Air” comes via a different section of 80s music, sounding initially like something Jan Hammer would soundtrack “Miami Vice” to before becoming something far more contemporary with shades of the tropical house, Drake/Bieber style backing which is all over every chart hit of the last 2 years. The change to female vocals courtesy of tour support act Self Esteem gives the track a Blondie-style vibe and whilst the boys aren’t unwelcome, this is something fresh and different from the band which sounds cool and is instantly catchy.
“Champagne” is Django Django doing a 1960s psychedelic freakout track which steers just the right side of descending into Austin Powers lynchpin “Soul Bossa Nova” territory but does conjure up all kinds of groovy images of beehived women handjiving in a lurid Carnaby Street drinking den. Ear-grabbing first single “Tic Tac Toe” is a masterclass in creating a pop/rock/electronic anthem from seemingly perverse and awkward writing/production decisions (that bit-too-fast tempo, the wobbly distorted echoes, the brilliant 1950s guitar breakouts) which just shows the genius of the band. It’s instantly in your brain and more importantly, has you tapping along eager to leap up and (Hail) bop to the track at a live venue.
“Further” is a swaggering blues rock track that’s also a little bit glam in places and probably the most straightforward pop song on the album whilst “Sundials” is an odd one, beginning with insistent piano chords and then vocals which sound a little bit Woodstock-hippie-ish. It’s a perfectly serviceable flower power anthem, a little bit like a schools television programme theme song of the 70s or 80s but just feels a little bit tame amongst the towering rock tracks either side.
“Beam Me Up” is a return to the dark, industrial electronic vibe of the beginning of the album with drum loops and crunchy synth noises under Vincent’s layered and echoing vocals which leads perfectly into 2nd single “In Your Beat” which is a brilliant example of the band’s ear for a great promo track, with bits reminding you of all their other great singles which came before and yet it still manages to sound new, fresh and exciting, like a crazy rock ‘n’ roll video game rave anthem. Which also might have once been the theme to a classic 1980s game show at some point too!
“Real Gone” is all experimental squelchy synths and space noises before becoming a post-apocalyptic robot outbreak song about loss and regret before the album comes to a close with “Fountains” which initially threatens to be an exotic, euphoric pop song before turning into an exotic, dark Madchester anthem.
The band may have settled into their stride, but they haven’t become complacent, releasing a set which expertly showcases their eclectic influences and willfully uncategorisable genre-exploding genius.