Album Of The Week: DJDS - 'Stand Up And Speak'

Written By Sam Murphy on 02/01/2016

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Last week Kanye West tweeted that his forthcoming album WAVES was a gospel record before sharing an updated tracklist with a bunch of names scrawled around it. Among the names were Kylie, Khloe, Kim, Chance, Diddy and somewhat surprisingly LA duo DJ Dodger Stadium. It’s yet to be confirmed yet whether or not Jerome LOL and Samo Soundboy will nab a spot on the record but after one listen to their latest record Stand Up And Speak, it makes total sense.

On their second album, the duo have taken the roots of gospel and soul music, using its euphoria and elation and nestling it in a bed of 3am beats, using the club as the optimum setting rather than the church. Their dizzying debut album Friend Of Mine was euphoric and triumphant but this album achieves that feeling in a whole different way. While the repetitive samples still reign supreme there are also full songs on here with verses and choruses, something that the duo haven’t really dabbled in before. As such, Stand Up And Speak is a far more accessible effort but that doesn’t mean it’s any less twisted and distorted.

Opener One Good Thing places us in the right setting immediately. The marching band drums lead us into a pace while the vocal sample is melancholic but optimistic. As the beats kicks in, they immediately thrust us into the world of DJDS - firm beats, triumphant vocal samples and swirling synths.

“Our approach is wanting to make dance music that has the width of emotions that’s allowed to a conventional band,” told Billboard about the record and by the first track of the album they have already achieved that. This isn’t the cut and paste emotion that EDM conjures, it’s the type of heart-swelling emotion that a stadium band needs to send hand into the air.

There’s a common misconception that dance music has to be synthetic as if its been born in a computer rather than in the head of the creator but Stand Up And Speak reclaims the humanity within the music. As soon as the perky keys of You Don’t Have To Be Alone are ushered in, there’s a feeling of comfort that enters. It’s not just the content of the lyrics, “you don’t have to be alone,” it’s the hugging beats and lightly layered vocals that induce the warm and fuzzies.

While Stand Up And Speak is far more organic and melodic than its predecessor it doesn’t mean that DJDS are stepping away from the clubs. This is still music best consumed in the club but if anything it realises all the best things about the dance music culture. It’s not staring at a LED screens through the lenses of fluoro ray bans, it’s that feeling of community. When you know you’re all congregated together because you’re all of the same ilk, driven by a love for similar music.

Among the more gospel-leaning material, there’s plenty of throbbing electronic music. In The Flames is born from the dark depths of the club with its demonic bassline and haunting vocal sample while Darling Cheryl is driven by a wild, tribal beat that gets more and more ferocious throughout its near 5 minute duration. Those moments are beautifully complemented by the less dark stuff. No Guarantees is a woozy but ultimately uplifting break and Tell Me Why is an anxious yet celebratory slow-builder that explodes with a particularly enchanted synth.

For the first time DJDS have also dabbled in the world of electronic music decked out completely with melodic vocals from start to finish. Something To Believe In is the first one we’re treated to with a soulful vocal pumped along by industrial beats. A melody change at around the 1min 45sec mark really takes it to another level, proving DJDS are more than capable of satisfying electronic audiences and pop devotees. The title track is less immediate than the aforementioned but it’s just as rousing, ending with a captivating density. If Duke Dumont is reaching radio with his slightly cut and dry form of vocal deep house, then surely these tracks are DJDS’ entry point to a wider audience.

Still, the most amazing thing about DJDS is their ability to swell the heart with a matter of lines. I Don’t Love You is an obvious album highlight and manages to stir with only two lines, “I don’t love you,” and “I changed my mind.” Those two lines sit above marching band percussion and synths that hold back anxiously until the glorious final release. That segues effortlessly into the closer Found, ending the album much the same way as it started with gospel vocals and a slowly building, epic instrumental.

If you haven’t felt anything by this stage of the record changes are you won’t now, but if you’ve been captivated from the start your heart will be as big as your ears are wide open. Stand Up And Speak is a beautiful, euphoric and triumphant record that challenges the barrier between electronic music and emotion. Perhaps the biggest achievement for the pair is they have managed to do that with as few words as possible. No matter the lyrics, their music always speaks the loudest.