Three years ago another English electronic act added their name to the list that includes Depeche Mode, New Order and Underworld; bands that were able to harness futuristic sounds and marry them with a pop sensibility. They all wrote uber-catchy songs yet a common strain of melancholy coursed through most of their work. Django Django (and Hot Chip) in particular are continuing that legacy and on their sophomore album they delve into even more wonderful and magical musical environments.
There is a lushness to Born Under Saturn that sometimes takes a tropical form as it does with the steel drums of V’ibrations’ and ‘Break The Glass’. On the opener ‘Giant’ they make like Happy Mondays covering The Smiths with its baggy and propulsive groove. The partner to the album’s lushness is the groove(s) it digs deep into. Everything bounces and snakes with forward momentum. Sometimes it’s a twangy Art of Noise rhythm, at other times it takes the form of a Cure-ish gothic rumble as on ‘Found You’. What it always is is catchy, with earworms galore leaving snippets of their melodic trails running through your short term memory.
Single ‘First Light’ emits a certain sexiness with Vincent Neff’s nursery rhyme-like croon writhing around the percolated percussion with liquid qualities. In lesser hands it would be cranked up to anthemic levels but the art rock leanings of Django Django ensure they maintain the darker undercurrent and tension in that and most other songs. ‘Pause Repeat’ pushes the boundary of pop frothiness, taking on an Erasure-like euphoria in its chorus before we are pulled back down into murkier depths of kosmiche on ‘Reflections’ where the band have the bravado to incorporate a Duran Duran-esque saxophone solo courtesy of James Mainwaring from Roller Trio.
The lineage of sound that Django Django reference and expand on is a rich one. From Roxy Music to Kraftwerk, Syd Barrett to Wild Beasts, there’s an esoteric experimental quality to Born Under Saturn that perfectly balances the avant-garde and pop accessibility. It can at times be a head-swirling, disorientating listening experience but ultimately it’s a kaleidoscopic trip through psychedelic musical pop art.