, February 3rd, 2012 11:11
Everyone's fairly relaxed about the whole originality/influences question nowadays, aren't they? Sounding a bit like other bands: it's basically OK as long as you're good. But just sometimes... it still jars. Why it should seem fine for Howler to sound so like The Strokes and TOY to sound like The Horrors and Ride, but somehow seem like a bit of a scam for Django Django to occasionally sound so like The Beta Band that they're very nearly a Gamma Group? Perhaps because the Beta Band were such an odd little anomaly at the time, whereas those other groups stand in a long evolution of guitar music in which borrowing and adaptation is the norm... whatever, it's still not fair.
And if the starting points of this London-based, Edinburgh-art-school-sourced crew are obvious, the places where they end up are charmingly surprising, and often scratchier and weirder than the Betas (by the way, head Django and drummer/singer man Dave Mclean is the brother of Beta keyboardist John. Just sayin').
Three years in the crafting after an initial buzz around their debut single, 'Django Django' is a slow-brewed muso stew and no mistake. It's the sort of thing old men who listen to Marc Riley on the radio every night will get their knickers in an incredible, many-knotted and damp twist over, but try as you might to resist its nerdy allure, the sunny, dubby, psych-hop meander of comet-punning opener 'Hail Bop' will suck you in.
It's one of several moments on the album where Mclean seems to be singing a love song to the music, or the muse itself; see also 'Waveforms'. Further in, and the infectious, fractious bedroom folk-disco of 'Default' and the blooping, playful 'Zumm Zumm' recall the likes of early Metronomy, Micachu or Gyratory System in their “yeah, stick one of those on, it makes a good parp” home-made-sounding inventiveness.
Django Django are at their best when their sounds are at their gnarliest. While 'Firewater''s country-flecked, chilled lull strays a little too far into the Beta block, the almost Clinic-like, finger-clicking cowpunkapsychobilly stomp of 'Wor', the post-punk Orientalist-mentalist silliness of 'Skies Over Cairo' and 'Life's A Beach''s weird swing from surf-pop into mournful keyboard sonata and back are such good fun, who cares where it comes from, really? These boys seem to be all about where they can take it, and who are we to keep a good weirdo down?