Indeed. The band's self-titled debut was nominated for the United Kingdom's prestigious Mercury Prize (which the band lost to Alt-J's similarly multifaceted An Awesome Wave); the members make their Philly debut this week at Union Transfer; and they'll be back in June for Delaware's Firefly Festival. Neff grew up in Scotland and shared a preteen Beatles obsession with drummer/producer Dave Maclean. Maclean's older brother John was a member of the Beta Band, and Django Django also builds on that band's fondness for inspired, kaleidoscopic refractions of ideas.
"We're all in our early 30s, so we grew up in the U.K. having been exposed to our older brothers' and older cousins' listening to hard-core rave back in 1990, '91," says Neff. "Drum-'n'-bass happened when we were 15, 16. We love dance music. We got into a lot of '60s psych things when we were in our early 20s at university, where there'd be lots of rockabilly and psych. We loved it all equally."
Rather than settle on one style, Django Django (whose name, coincidentally, comes by way of the same movie that inspired Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained) is everything at once. Songs like "Hand of Man" and "Love's Dart" display the quartet's love of densely layered harmony vocals, which Neff learned during his adolescent stint in a cathedral choir. But most of all, Django Django is a fun, high-energy party band. Neff cites '60s garage rockers the Monks as an inspiration: "That idea of being in a really sweaty room where everybody kind of forgets that the band is playing and is just having a great time - that kind of led us on. That's what we strive for, in a way."
It's easy to get lost in the thumping, stomping beats of "Default," the spaghetti-western propulsion of "WOR," or the glitchy glam of "Waveforms." Django Django songs are dense with ideas, fragments of styles, and layers of harmony vocals. But they never sound cluttered: They convey a kid-in-a-candy-shop joy in variety and possibility. Or, in Neff's words, they're "shiny magpie things."
"It's a magpie kind of approach where we take everything," he says with a laugh, "and then it's hard for us to let go of all the different parts."
Django Django and Night Moves play
at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Union Transfer, 1024 Spring Garden St. Tickets: $15. Information: 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com.