By their debut’s sing-and-jump-along standards, Born Under Saturn is a more reserved affair - though that’s not to say it’s that tired cliché of a grower, it’s just not particularly rhapsodic. Nor is it particularly brilliant. Instead what we have in Django Django’s second LP is something more in the vein of Real Estate’s Atlas or Metronomy’s Love Letters, an understatedly good album that while eschewing bombast doesn’t demand careful attention to be appreciated.
The album kicks off with the clunking keys of “Giant”, which suitably sets the tone for all that follows. Quirky harmonies, myriad effects, and gentle aphorisms. “Shake and Tremble, a flanged-up rumble without the pomp of “Default" yet containing most of the things that made it fun follows, yielding the slightly upsetting truth that these two tracks are probably the most urgent of the record.
While the absence of cast-iron bangers is likely to disappoint fans of the band's previous, there’s still plenty here to enjoy, just not to bang the bongos about. Latest single “Reflections” is a particular stop-start gem that has just enough harmonized oohs and aahs to compliment the off-kilter jazz interludes. Lead single “First Light” is a spritely ear worm, the swirling synths of “Shot Down” are jubilant enough, and heck, they even find a way to use a theremin on the jaunty “Pause Repeat”. Their well-documented African influences abound across the record, and of course it’s a bit of a reductionist distillation, but there’s Songhoy Blues for the purists. Django Django are all about having some fun.
So what remains is a definitively good album, albeit not a great one. In reining the choruses in, Django Django prove their ability to pen a tune and dress it up in harmonies and just about every worldly influence they can, but one does long for that debut with its glorious introductory one-two punch of “Hail Bop” and “Default”, and all those toe-tapping hooks thereafter. The album that wasn’t quite so hemmed in.