A definitive pattern emerges once one looks at how London-based Django Django have been bringing out their music since their self-titled debut album in 2012; over a three-year period bring out a record to almost universal critical acclaim, tour extensively tearing up stages worldwide along the way, take a break, retire to the studio to work on your next record, and then repeat first step. The follow up to 2015’s Born Under Saturn, their third studio LP, Marble Skies, shows no signs of breaking that cycle.
As per usual with Django Django’s distinctive style, Marble Skies fuses updated-to-the-21st century Beach Boys-style harmonised surf rock with swathes of electronic trickery. The multi-layered tracks throughout make repeated listens a rewarding experience. A band never afraid to try out new ideas, this album sees some intriguing variations thrown into the mix. While the results vary, it’s always refreshing to see a group not content to simply rest on their laurels.
New directions include the dancehall-influenced ‘Surface to Air’ or the lovely, almost-ballad ‘Sundials’. The former features Rebecca Taylor of indie-pop duo Slow Club on guest vocals over a summer-y, lilting Caribbean groove, while the latter is a sparse arrangement that rather beautifully gathers layers underneath it as it builds. The mid-tempo ‘Champagne’ is underpinned by a funky bassline and eerie organs but lacks any real bite.
Django Django are at their very best, however, when they speed things up. First single ‘Tic Tac Toe’ sees the band on more familiar terrain – all trademark jangling guitars, snapping percussion, oblique lyrics and catchy hooks. The rousing rockabilly of ‘Further’ and the pulsing electronic-heavy opener ‘Marble Skies’ both stomp along breathlessly.
The irresistible ‘In Your Beat’ is the real showstopper here. Jittering electronic beats are accompanied by dreamy synths with drawling lyrics strung out mesmerizingly over them. While the rest of the album can be considered a grower, this just screams immediate classic – like hearing the guitar riff off ‘Default’ for the first time, you just know this is something special. Ever the masters of an infectious hook, the repeating bridge (“Why we gotta be so damn low? Why we gotta be so damn low once again?”) and chorus towards the end can worm their way into your brain and be hard to shake off, even in sleep.
Either side of ‘In your Beat’ are two further electronic tracks. The dramatic ‘Beam Me Up’ is laden with darker synths and wouldn’t be out of place alongside the more cosmic songs on Born Under Saturn. The club banger ‘Real Gone’ follows ‘In Your Beat’ and keeps the frenetic pace going, while actually being the longest track on the record. The wonderful album closer ‘Fountains’ is a fitting end to proceedings with its tinkling, tropical groove and yet another memorable hook for the chorus – an ongoing theme from start to finish.
Punching in at just over 40 minutes, Marble Skies is a rock solid, well-balanced effort from the ultra-consistent Django Django. But while being consistent is one thing, being consistently this excellent is what really sets them apart from their peers.