The longer music develops, the more obsolete genre labels become, and Django Django’s newest release solidifies that fact. With a weird mesh of post-punk, psychedelia, and folk-rock—plus a few other detours—the group’s “sound” has transcended past singular words and phrases aside from simply: “music.” But as many people who are invested in music now know, the trivial vocabulary only services to hold music back, and often-times those that are the hardest to categorize are the most fun to listen to (thank you, Death Grips). And though some experiments fall flat, Glowing in the Dark contains many more hits than it does misses.
While the wholistic collection of tracks is hard to put a music-educated finger on, Glowing in the Dark isn’t chock-full of mind-expanding ideas and numerous levels of nuance. In fact, there isn’t much here that hasn’t been done before. “Right the Wrongs,” for example, is one or two fewer guitar layers away from being easy-going, 60s and 70s rock. The silky, happy-go-lucky vocal harmonies push forward effortlessly with a very pop-esque hook and chord progression that will get stuck in your head for days.
Some tracks even fail to bring that extra layer of difference, with “The World Will Turn” being a spacious, home-y, folk-rock jam. Sometimes nothing beats some quick, poetic verses and a great acoustic guitar to accompany them, and that’s quite truly all this is. Even the title track itself, “Glowing in the Dark,” could find itself among a laundry-list of different late 90s and early 2000s club-friendly techno pop hits (evident by the endless amount of DJ remixes that are already out). Yet, it’s one of the catchiest features on the whole record, and one of my personal favorites.
So, with many of the tracks being already-discovered ways of music production, much of this record’s lack of definition comes with the presentation of these known ideas. Where “Right the Wrongs” has its excess guitar layers, “Spirals” has its one-minute long, glistening electronic intro—something that you wouldn’t necessarily find before a dark, bass-heavy post-punk song. “Free from Gravity” begins as a bare-bones, lyric-driven, indie song before the hook brings an electronic ambience I haven’t heard since the Postal Service. And “Hold Fast,” while seemingly synth-pop inspired, tones the synths down enough for Vincent Neff’s soothing vocals to push through.
Funnily enough, it’s the more out-there, heavily experimental tracks that fail to succeed. “Night of the Buffalo” ends with a minute of an orchestral solo that seems a bit overkill and out-of-the-blue—arguably worsened by its juxtaposition to the very calming, subtle “The World Will Turn.” And while I seem to like it more than many others do (probably due to my IDM bias), “The Ark” is definitely a weak-point for the record. It can’t decide between being a pace-setting interlude, and a full-on, three-minute electronic extravaganza, resulting in a song that feels lost and unnecessary.
Though its complexities are more subtle than anything else, Glowing in the Dark is a great example of experimentation done the right way. Rather than start from scratch, the band takes what is already known and adds their own unexpected flare to make it much more memorable and interesting. And by the time you get through the whole record, you’ve absorbed a boat load of different influences and sounds—even if many aren’t apparent. It doesn’t hurt that most of the hooks are well-crafted, too.