Album Review | Django Django | Off Planet

Django Django invite you to take a journey through the stars with their fifth studio album ‘Off Planet’

When Dundee-born producer and drummer Dave Maclean met Northern Irish singer Vincent Neff at Edinburgh Uni back in 2009 neither could have imagined they’d be releasing an album quite as bold as latest effort ‘Off Planet’. The duo moved to London and were joined by fellow Scot Tommy Grace and Yorkshire born Jimmy Dixon to form Django Django. The band released their Mercury award nominated self-titled debut album in January 2012 and have gone on the release a further three albums prior to this latest release.

Off Planet is a somewhat complex record. For a start it clocks in at around 1 hour and 20 minutes and contains 21 tracks. Even the most dedicated fan would have to admit that’s quite a lot to take in one go. Thankfully the band came up with a solution for this. Off Planet is divided into four parts with each part essentially its own EP, or four separate planets if you will. Parts 1-3 were released periodically through 2023 with the fourth and final part arriving last Friday, allowing fans to listen to the album in its entirety.

Part 1 was released back in February, it contains five tracks and features collaborations with Self Esteem, Refound* and Isabelle Woodhouse. ‘Complete Me’ featuring Self Esteem is the single from this section and is arguably the best track on the entire album. Of the single Maclean mentions the track is ‘inspired by a lot of 90s breakbeat house.’ Self Esteem has been an associated of Django Django for a while now, releasing her first EP on Maclean’s Kick + Clap label, supporting the band on tour and previously appeared on the band’s 2018 release Marble Skies.

Fast forward to March now for Part 2 which also contains five tracks and features Japanese rapper Yuuko Sings and vocalist Roxanne Clifford, better known as Patience. According to Maclean the collaboration with Yuuko simple came from searching Google for ‘Japanese rapper’. Yuuko performs the track, ‘Don’t Touch That Dial‘ almost entirely in Japanese but there’s no denying just how catchy the track is. It’s easy to get lost in the collaborations of the album but the band do get their chance to shine in each part. The final track of Part 2 ‘Golden Cross’ is the highlight of this section for me, it’s smooth, calming beat takes us to the halfway point of this epic journey.

The band sneak in a extra track for Part 3 and of course, features a few more guest names. The lead track for this one is ‘No Time’ and features English indie rocker Jack Peñate. This one is up there with ‘Complete Me’ for the top track on this record. As a whole Part 3 is probably the strongest section. ‘Galaxy Mood’ featuring Toya Delazy and ‘Dead Machine’ featuring Stealing Sheep are also very strong tracks but the final song of this section ‘Dumdrum’ is an absolute knockout. It’s another 90’s dance throwback with a hook that really sticks with you.

Finally, we come to the final section and unfortunately it’s not quite a case of saving the best for last. Part 4 features just the one collaboration, ‘Who You Know’ featuring Bernardo and has no recognised single. However, there is one track that’s worth shouting about. ‘Slipstream’ is five minutes of New Order adjacent magic, easily the best track that does not have a featured artist.

Off Planet is a very ambitious project, there’s so many different sounds and styles that all deserve attention but there’s also unquestionably some filler in there too. The band could easily have taken 10-12 fantastic tracks and made a 10/10 album but you have to admire the decision made to go in this direction. Is it a double album? A quadruple EP? Either way, it’s bold and Django Django’s best work in years.