If dusky psychedelic pop music is your thing, chances are Django Django are already on your radar. Glowing in the Dark expands on the horizons set previously, with the band pushing towards a variety of different styles and genres. At this point they’re basically flaunting their extreme talents. The bastards.
This virtuosic approach results in some great songs spread across the tracklist, though I would likely find the whole thing more engaging if Django Django had stuck to a definitive musical concept. After all, just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. Similar to Khruangbin’s album from last year, Glowing in the Dark plays more like mood music. Good mood music, so we’re clear. I just think there’s a lot more in the tank that we’re not seeing.
Glowing in the Dark is covered in so much haze that, despite some serious musical detours, tracks still tend to blend together. This is very much the selling point for many listeners, though, and there’s no knocking the aesthetic. I myself have grown enamoured with a handful of tracks. “Got me Worried” is a clear favourite, practically pleading to be played over a Tarantino film in which a handsome group of individuals are driving through Texas on a dry, sunny day. “Free from Gravity” is one of the more welcome curveballs, especially with its cute synth lines that bubble up during the chorus, and “Night of the Buffalo” is a cinematic journey with more twists and turns than I expected for a song under four minutes.
How typical of me to wish for more songs with such a sense of theatrical drama. What can I say? I just love music that sets a scene. For the most part, Glowing in the Dark excels more at establishing a baseline vibe. Whilst this comes with some limitations, there’s no denying that the album has more than enough to please all types of listeners.
7 out of 10
A few months back we reviewed an album much like Glowing in the Dark. It was Mordechai by Khruangbin. We dubbed it a ‘festival album,’ which meant it was a pleasant one-off event without much staying power. There’s little I can say here that I didn’t say there.
What I can say: Django Django establish a throwback ‘60s aesthetic before branching off, seemingly at random, into the realms of krautrock, disco, and a few other places besides. Although the breadth of sound is impressive, in its entirety the record feels unsubstantial — especially given the hazy production. It’s like something you’d expect to hear in the background of an Austin Powers film.
In fairness there are spells where the album truly is groovy, baby. “Got Me Worried” flows like a psychedelic dream, while “Waking Up” shows a grit I sorely wish had worked its way into other parts of the record. They are the exceptions rather than the rule, though, at least for me.
6 out of 10
Glowing in the Dark feels like a product of indecision. Four albums in with close to a decade since their debut, Django Django have had time to explore their sound, but this latest album pulls in enough directions to stretch at the seams.
Tracks bounce from ‘60s aesthetic to ethereal interlude, pacey cinematic blockbuster to pacing disco dazzler. But it doesn’t play like a patchwork quilt of characterful moments as an Avalanches or Gorillaz tracklist might. Had it been able to the album would’ve provided leeway for these drastic mood changes and jumps in style. Instead, it feels like a disparate mix of ideas, none strong enough to kick the rest to the curb and claim the full 40-minute playtime.
That might all sound like the makings of a B-side album then, but to label it as such would unfairly disparage the quality here. The music on Glowing in the Dark is by no means an afterthought, and while tracks may bounce between styles, they bounce along in the best sense of the word.
At its best, Glowing in the Dark has me shimmying, maybe even dancing under the right conditions(!). “Got Me Worried” slides in with a hooky motif, twinkling guitar on the right and twitchy keys firing in the left. It’s a real jaunt of a track and one of my highlights, ending sooner than I’d like. “Free from Gravity”, the first detour that abruptly dispenses of the ‘60s mood, is a bright, sugary synth-pop track which piques my interest with each listen. The title track is one of a handful where you may need to check you’re still playing the same album, as it could sit happily on a Hot Chip release with synths that mean business and a beat that carries far more weight than any other drumline on the tracklist.
By the Metronomy-esque closer, Glowing in the Dark leaves me a bit dizzy. As things progress, the mood of the album changes more frequently. That Django Django can do so is quite an achievement. It shows a band comfortable with experimentation and confident in their sound. But as a listening experience, Glowing in the Dark doesn’t leave me with much to hang on to and I doubt I’ll be returning to the album as a whole.
7 out of 10