Google image Django Django and the result is a photo of four men with huge grins on their faces. The Scottish band (pronounced jango-jango) has been nominated for the coveted Mercury Prize, the UK's highest music award, given yearly to the best album released in the United Kingdom. The Mercury Prize has been around since 1992 and last year was awarded to PJ Harvey for her great record, Let England Shake. Django Django shouldn’t have much competition this year. This album is excellent and deserves the prize.
Released on Because Music in the UK back in January and now being released stateside, Django Django is an innovative album. Percussive on every level from the synthesizers and drum tracks to the particularly arranged vocals and a capella work, this record certainly isn't boring. Sometimes a band can get stuck in its own sound and their record can end up with multiple versions of the same song. Not so with Django Django.
Opening with "Introduction," the track builds and builds off synths and, over the course of the record, what will become their signature choir choruses. The heavy bass drums move forward for the full two minutes until it seamlessly flows into track two, "Hail Bop," another synth driven piece until the electric guitar comes in. Then, get ready to get lost in all the layers. There are so many to choose from that every time you hear the track you'll discover a new one to nod along with.
"Default" is a stand-out track among stand-out tracks with one of the best driving hooks of any song this year. The large melodic sounds are beautifully accented with Vincent Neff’s angelic vocals. While they are all stand-out musicians, they could also be mistaken as an over achieving male choir. They change it up on "Firewater" with a hand clap track and an acoustic guitar, ushering in their folk sounds for the first time on the record. "Waveforms" then changes it up with an entirely undulating sound of electronica.
There are many sing along songs on this record, Django Djnago certainly sets the bar high. Production is tight and the band's ability to use the same instruments to create new wave forms and musical identities seems endless. Neff and the backing vocals supplied by the band are perfect . They sustain long enough and mingle so closely that it's hard to know who is singing which part. Mixing the vocal track on this record must have taken extreme patience. It's beautiful and complicated.
Django Django is only thirteen tracks long. Not until track seven, "Hand of Man" do they slow it down with more acoustics and a cepella work. It still sounds like them, only a new flavor.. On "Love's Dart" we get more drum circle inspired percussion. "Wor" sounds like it could soundtrack any chase scene, and on "Skies Over Cairo," they move into a middle-eastern inspired groove.
This band is inspiring. Django Django is complex and never stops hitting the target. Here's hoping their second release isn't too far away. And until then, this record will have you always coming back for more. So nice, they named it twice.