London’s favourite Scot’s return with vigorous second album
After initial success, some bands fold and falter with their follow up. One rule of thumb is to get it out as quickly as possible while people still remember how good the debut was. The Arctic Monkeys did this and it paid off. Favourite New Nightmare was released fifteen months after their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Fans and critics agreed it was a classic follow up. Other bands take years for their follow up and release something that not only misses the musical mark, but also is panned too. The Stone Roses took five years between their debut and the aptly titled Second Coming. Others take a lifetime for that follow up Linda Perhacs took 44 years for her second album. Luckily it was worth the wait. Django Django only left it three years for their follow up. Luckily they have returned with an album that is in part equal to their debut.
As Django Django was a sleeper hit, being written in frontman David Maclean’s home, there is more pressure on Born under Saturn (the title gives his worries away, as Saturn generally means death/confronting fears in astrology). This pressure to surpass their debut comes across in the scale of the recordings. It is a bigger and richer sounding album, but at times this larger sound comes at the expense of the songs. Having said that the music is positive and bouncy, but the lyrics are just as ironic and scathing about 2015 as they were about 2013.
Opening track Giant talks about returning to your home town after a lengthy absence and the problems that can bring. “Looking over the city where you once belong, Shrug your shoulder to the people who have done you wrong”. The beats are big, the harmonies and tight and the guitars twang and rumble. Not a bad for an opening track. Shake and Tremble ramps up the twangy 1950’s guitars another notch. The guitar intro sounds like a 2015 version of Rebel Rouser and the Peter Gunn Theme played at the same time while an indie kid plays around with a Theremin. Comeback single First Light is one of the albums highlights. From the opening drums and bassline to the earwom inducing chorus, is begs to be played loud! Pause Repeat sounds like a combination of Klaxons and Hot Chip. It sounds half formed and hackneyed at times. On Reflections Maclean’s fears are summed up in the lyrics “Stare into a gleaming stone, Trying to seek new life, It glistened once, now it’s unrefined and cold. Try to live a perfect life, Paint our world in gold, Before we realized we were owned and sold.” The beauty of Reflections is you don’t notice the lyrics tone until the fourth listen as the music is uplifting.
Musically Django Django have done back to their early loves. Duane Eddy riffs, Beach Boys harmonies, early dance beats, glam rock bravado all wrapped up with an indie sensibility. This approach has paid off as the songs sound fresh, appealing and bouncy. Born under Saturn isn’t a perfect album. Yes it’s catchy, and fun, but the lyrics are quite poignant, but overall it just works and with every listen you hear new things and remember others. One thing is certain Maclean isn’t that comfortable in the spotlight and this comes across in the albums themes. Alienation, the evils of capitalism and acceptance all feature prominently. Let’s hope Saturn has passed for DD III.