British art rockers Django Django return with their third effort Marble Skies and strike a balance between the catchy indie pop of their debut with the more artsy inclinations of 2015’s Born Under Saturn.
The strongest points on the album are when the boys go for the pop jugular. They certainly have a way with a vocal hook. Opener Marble Skies is the highlight. This is textbook Django Django – one spoon staccato verse, one spoon Beach Boys phrasing, stir thoroughly until you have one of the best indie singles of the summer.
Whenever Django Django flirt with their poppy side they come out on top. Champagne is another success, a catchy falsetto-crooned tune over some heavyset yet wormy bass and moody Mellotron-sounding synth washes. Tic Tac Toe is the single from here and, although not as strong as the two aforementioned tracks, it gets by on its (relative) energy and a punchy drumbeat. Further strikes gold, with a swampy Credence Clearwater Revival groove (or at least as swampy as these boys can get) meeting some more blissed out Beach Boys vocals.
The boys do tentatively try some experimentation, but its touch is as light as you’d expect from an outfit this polished. Some of it works, such as mood-piece Sundials which builds on a jazzy keyboard riff and is pleasantly floaty. Surface To Air on the other hand, tries an r’n’b approach and suffers for it, with its Latin-influenced rhythm at odds with the flighty and inoffensive instrumentation and production style. Beam Me Up tries limp-wristedly to be heavy, with an opening bassline that reminds me of The Prodigy. Alas it devolves into a generic indie pop dirge.
Overall the album’s biggest strength (its shiny pop craft) is also its weakness. It is almost too clean – a very polished indie pop product, both hard to fault and hard to deem truly remarkable. The album rarely rocks, it rarely rolls, and a good quarter of it is elevator pop music. But it delivers some damn solid pop hooks along the way, and that’s all that really matters.