British rock outfit Django Django returned with a 42-minute studio album “Glowing in the Dark” Feb. 12. The 13-track project marks the group’s fourth full-length album since their self-titled debut album in 2012.
“Glowing in the Dark” features a combination of genres — from rock, pop and electronic — both across multiple tracks and within individual songs. Accompanying this hybrid of sounds is an underlying sense of urgency and liveliness.
Within the first few moments of the album, the convergence of synthesizers with a backing drum and guitar make for an other-worldly experience. “Spirals” finds an exponentially quickening synthesizer pattern lead into a propelling drumline and bass that persists throughout the track. The track fails to top this initial high note as it stagnates into a repetitive chorus, but the occasional video game sound effects deliver some varying flavor.
The London-based group makes a barebones turn on “Got Me Worried.” The track features a folk-inspired bounce from the bassline, a miscellaneous culmination of ride cymbals and tom drum hits and lead singer Vincent Neff’s soft, amiable vocals. All this comes together to make for a relaxed, yet up-tempo ambience — like road tripping down a country highway.
The soft rock cut “Waking Up” brings a unique high to the tracklist. Charlotte Gainsbourgh vocally accompanies Neff in an underlying yet prominent whispering performance that feels similar to many King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard track mixings. Over a humble instrumental, the duet sings vividly of nomads on the great frontier.
“Waking up to the fact we’re never coming back / Our home is the open road,” the chorus sings.
While the simplicity and repetitiveness of this soft rock tune scores as a high moment, Django Django pulverizes their winning formula into mush on multiple instances throughout the tracklist.
“Free From Gravity” begins with a pleasant combination of percussion, but quickly falls short on all other fronts. The electronic rock track becomes cliche with generic high hat drums, a spacey synthesized bass and misplaced, futuristic rings form an intergalactic tragedy. Fittingly, Neff’s lyrics are predictable as the chorus is obnoxiously repetitive rather than hypnotic.
The British quartet hopes for lightning to strike twice, even three times, with “Right the Wrongs” and “Night of the Buffalo.” Both tracks follow an identical architecture and similar electronic rock flavor as “Spirals,” but fail to bring forth anything memorably distinct.
Despite Django Django’s failures to unionize electronic and rock music — a style most commonly attributed to the group — the band delivers sticky, dance-inducing tracks.
Most notably, “Headrush” is a simple indie rock cut with lively instrumentation and amusing vocals. Unlike some more forgettable moments, listeners find Neff expanding his tonal range, incorporating thoughtful lyrics and sharing the chorus with bright backing vocals.
Another pop rock highlight arrives late into the tracklist with “Kick Out the Devil.” The track brings an infectious warmth with a variation of energetic guitar riffs, a rhythmic drumline and even the occasional xylophone clammer to add color to the instrumentation. Once more, the chorus is amplified with secondary vocals to lift Neff’s performance and create a beautiful chaos of voices when they echo various one-liners in the background.
“Don’t be blind cause he’s not more real than you and me,” Neff sings. “Not another superstition you can see / Gonna leave him behind in time”
The album’s title track draws the project close to its conclusion with the most successful electronic track since the album’s opening track. “Glowing in the Dark” brings a fast-paced vocal delivery with energetic, sporadic sample cuts of the original chorus at varying speeds, durations and pitches. A punchy drum kit and humming piano synthesizers lay the foundation for this revitalizing electronic pop hit — a fitting choice for both a surprising backend track and a lead single of the album.
“Glowing in the Dark” is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.