Django Django - Marble Skies - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Django Django - Marble Skies

by Jim Cunnar Rating:4 Release Date:2018-01-26
Django Django - Marble Skies
Django Django - Marble Skies

Some bands are built on nostalgia. For Django Django, tapping into the past has been part of their modus operandi since their eponymous debut in 2012. That debut and their follow up Born Under Saturn combined 60s harmonies with a love of 80s synthesizers, which made for a modern and fresh listen. Their third effort, Marble Skies, is unfortunately more stale than fresh, with too much emphasis on the past and not enough on the present.

Since Born Under Saturn, the band added Metronomy drummer Anna Prior and decided to take the recording process back to the band’s roots, with a focus on a smaller recording space instead of a large recording studio. They also made a decision to collaborate with Jan Hammer (yes, that Jan Hammer of “Miami Vice Theme” fame), which explains the overwhelming new wave/80s aura of the album.

The album opens with the title track, which immediately establishes Marble Skies’ influence.  It is Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Love Missile F1-11” meets Berlin’s “The Metro”. I like both of those songs and bands, but it is one thing to give a nod to a sound and era, another to pen a song that could easily have been on one of those albums. Follow-up “Surface To Air” features Prior on vocals, but does nothing to pull the album away from feeling like it should of been played at my high school prom in 1985.  It’s Kraftwerk being played in a Jamaican dance hall. 

The middle of the album takes Django Django closer to their original recipe. “Champagne” channels The Zombies and The Turtles with a sprinkling of Devo and an Elvis Costello’s Wurlitzer from “Radio, Radio”.  “Tic Tac Toe” is one of the albums highlights.  It has the same driving drum beat as their biggest hit “Default”, with harmonies and overdubs which make it both danceable and fun. The problem is that it sounds frighteningly similar to “Default”. 

“Beam Me Up” is the most promising single on the album.  It borrows but does not steal from its influence, most notably “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode.  It starts off subdued but builds into a complex synth-laden jam.  It’s dark and complex, a sound I wish the band would have pursued more of. 

Third to last song “In Your Beat” is a blatant rip-off of Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”, and the final two songs, “Real Gone” and “Fountains” just fade the album into boring obscurity, with little fanfare and less to remember. 

Django Django’s sound is one that was tenuous from the beginning with such a reliance on bygone eras and tastes. Thus, Marble Skies is an album which is unfortunately neither relevant nor very good, one which makes the listener wonder if it was even necessary in the first place.

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