|Dirty Projectors — Lamp Lit Prose (July 13, 2018)|
Dirty Projectors — Lamp Lit Prose (July 13, 2018)Δ★★Δ
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Album release: July 13, 2018
Record Label: Domino
01. Right Now (feat. Syd) 3:38
02. Break~Thru 3:47
03. That’s A Lifestyle 4:23
04. I Feel Energy (feat. Amber Mark) 4:36
05. Zombie Conqueror (feat. Empress Of) 3:45
06. Blue Bird 3:49
07. I Found It in U 3:27
08. What Is the Time 3:15
09. You’re the One (feat. Robin Pecknold & Rostam) 2:18
10. (I Wanna) Feel It All (feat. Dear Nora) 4:22
• All tracks written by David Longstreth, except “(I Wanna) Feel It All” by Longstreth, Nat Baldwin and Mike Daniel Johnson.
Dirty Projectors: Lamp Lit Prose review — lovedrunk swoons from hip~pop heroes
Ben Beaumont~Thomas, Thu 12 Jul 2018 12.00 BST. Score: ★★★★
Δ★★Δ If you’re one of those people who reflexively hates anything hip, Dirty Projectors will profoundly aggravate you. If the Brooklyn~formed group were juice, it would be cold~pressed; if they were an apartment, it would be a converted warehouse full of rare cacti; and if their rather torrid saga became a movie, it would be directed by Noah Baumbach. They have the — potentially annoying — hyper~literacy of the economically comfortable middle~class hipster, both lyrically and in their diverse influences (African pop, classical minimalism, R&B, punk). They also have a propensity for moments of bow~legged wackiness; a restive Dr Seuss energy makes them scurry about from one thing to the next, often within the same song, which you might need to acquire a taste for.
Δ★★Δ You might have also been rubbed up the wrong way by their previous, self~titled record, one of the most extraordinary breakup albums ever released, which bandleader Dave Longstreth used to rake over his relationship with former bandmate Amber Coffman in forensic detail. Moments of exquisite poignancy (“we had our own little bubble” — a sad, perfect pause — “for a while”) were offset with hugely unlikable snootiness (“what I want from art is truth / what you want is fame”) and the sense that Coffman, once so much a part of the band, couldn’t put forward her side of the story.
Δ★★Δ But even if you’re Coffman’s hipster~hating older brother, you might find a grin creeping across your face on hearing this irrepressible, sunny, even rather silly follow~up. If its predecessor was Longstreth’s Here, My Dear, this is his I Want You, the one where he dives into the shallow waters of new love with his eyes closed. “You pulled me up when you took my hand,” he sings on the beautiful opener Right Now, aided by R&B singer Syd on backing vocals. “There was silence in my heart and now I’m striking up the band.” They reply in bawdy honks of brass.
Δ★★Δ On the next track, the single Break~Thru, Longstreth is like the friend you see on Saturday morning who has visibly got laid on Friday night: seemingly hoisted on air by cherubs and chirruping birds. This being Longstreth, though, his girl isn’t “fit” or “banging” — instead “she’s got features on Fellini / Deadpan, unimpressed, Archimedes’ palimpsest / Just hanging out all Julian Casablancas.” And off he bowls down the street, twanging a guitar line as happy and saucy as a wolf whistle. Later songs are called I Feel Energy, I Found It in U, You’re the One … “OK, we get it!” his brunch buddies must be crying out.
Δ★★Δ This lovedrunk headspace prompts some funny, psychedelic images — “I’m in love for the first time ever / The universe becomes my mom and my dad,” he sings on I Found It in U. “And when we met there were alien hosannas / Thrown from the heavens like Prince and Nirvana.” While his musical speciality is knotty cleverness, the sheer certainty of his adoration also results in some of his simplest melodies, not least the chorus of Blue Bird, which feels like a nursery rhyme that you’ve always known.
Δ★★Δ That’s not to say anything is smoothed out: Longstreth eggs his arrangements until they’re rich but still fluffy. Haim, Amber Mark, Empress of, Dear Nora, Rostam Batmanglij and Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold also turn up for vocals, while there’s modular synth from Tyondai Braxton and dinky funk percussion; high, plinking piano drives the waltz of What is the Time. Most idiosyncratic of all is the brilliant closing ballad (I Wanna) Feel It All, with Sinatra~style strings, reversed cymbals, and a two~note motif played on recorder — the latter instrument is a cool balm after the sweaty energy of the previous songs.
Δ★★Δ It’s all very strongly written, though Longstreth is now reaching for familiar motifs — the lovely, downward~plodding chords of That’s a Lifestyle are reminiscent of those on the previous album’s equally lovely Up in Hudson, and there’s only so many more tightly circular riffs and sudden heavy guitar chords he can write. That’s a Lifestyle is nevertheless the richest track here, as Longstreth rolls his tongue back in long enough to muse on marketing and capital — though, given he rarely looks beyond himself, it could be an extended metaphor for his own band.
Δ★★Δ How long Longstreth’s swoon will last is debatable, and you can imagine an awkward moment when his new partner dips into the previous album: “What’s this bit about ‘love’s gonna rot, and love’s gonna dissipate’?” But it’s thrilling to be caught in his heart’s upswing — a reminder that, like childbirth, we’ve evolved to forget the pain of heartbreak so we can keep moving forward. Δ★★Δ https://www.theguardian.com/
by Adam Turner~Heffer July 10th, 2018; Score: 7
Δ★★Δ Much like any of Dave Longstreth’s three or four~minute mind~bending epics, we have been on somewhat of a journey with Dirty Projectors. Since his breakout piece, the inspired Black Flag re~works of Rise Above to the band’s crowning achievement Bitte Orca through to the folksy Swing Lo Magellan there was a period not that long ago where they were perhaps considered amongst one of the most exciting bands in the game. As a result, Longstreth has worked alongside Björk, Rhianna, Kanye West and Solange, as well as composed classical arrangements for the likes of Joanna Newsom and New York~based Ensemble LPR.
Δ★★Δ However, things turned sour during this period for the band, with longtime fellow key guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Amber Coffman departing from the band due to the demise of her relationship with Longstreth. Though she would work with him to produce her solo record City of No Reply as platonic friends, there was apparent bitter resentment on Longstreth’s end, something he displayed for all to see on last year’s self~titled album — ironically chosen given it is fundamentally a solo album. Dirty Projectors split opinion somewhat, as witnessing Longstreth peel away the curtain on some the band’s most loved moments — such as his now apparent dismissal of the Coffman~fronted ‘Stillness Is The Move’ — was a particularly tough listen both as a fan of the band and the personal lives of people involved for the sake of catharsis.
Δ★★Δ It seems though, with their second album in as many years, Lamp Lit Prose, Longstreth has got through his dark period - not so subtly displayed by the self~titled’s artwork — and is looking ahead again with a new optimism. Coffman’s contributions are still missed, but Longstreth has enlisted guests such as HAIM (though they’re not credited to a particular song here, one assumes their backing vocals are featured throughout in subtle places or were eventually axed), Amber Mark, Empress Of, Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes and Rostam of Vampire Weekend. Though this is still very much Longstreth~led, it’s pleasant to have a little bit of a breaking up of voices with his assembled guests.
Δ★★Δ Musically, Lamp Lit Prose is Longstreth’s poppiest, hook~laden and playful release to date. On opener ‘Right Now’, Longstreth literally “strikes up the band/while we can light the land” as a direct response to his new~found optimism away from last year’s jadedness, apparently helped in part by the courtship of a new woman and a new grasp on his band’s focus and intentions. Lead~single ‘Break~Thru’ only compounds this feeling with a full~on pop single about lust and love, with the woman in question being the breakthrough implied in the title for Longstreth. If this seems a little heavy~handed, you wouldn’t be wrong, but then every Longstreth has done in his oeuvre has been heavy~handed, it’s a style he’s managed to craft into his own niche which keeps this supremely weird music so charming and listenable.
Δ★★Δ The more recent single ‘That’s a Lifestyle’ in the most obvious ode to Longstreth’s earlier work, all luscious acoustic guitars and battling vocal effects matching a very Longstrethean turn of phrase for the chorus. ‘I Feel Energy’ similarly does not lie in regards to its title as a brilliant slice of energetic afro~beat inflected pop with an infectious horns section leading the charge. In the album’s heaviest effort, ‘Zombie Conqueror’ Longstreth reminds us he can still really rock out when he wants to using an excellent math~rock indebted riff along with a heavy drum beat to boot. Equally, Empress Of’s guest turn here is the standout of all of the many visitors on the album.
Δ★★Δ Unfortunately, Lamp Lit Prose slumps a little in its second half, as, is often the problem with Longstreth’s manic songwriting, the album starts to sag a little under its own weight, which is particularly notable for a sub~40 minute, ten~track album. ‘What Is The Time' is a sexy R&B~influenced jam, but it’s also the album’s cheesiest moment, something again that Longstreth is often partial to a bit of, so one’s enjoyment of it will very much depend on that. ‘You’re The One’ is a short folk~ballad where Pecknold and Rostam literally just mimic Longstreth’s melodies, making them feel a little underused, while the Dear Nora featuring closer has the feel of a warped 60s movie soundtrack.
Δ★★Δ Ultimately, Lamp Lit Prose is a far more enjoyable listen than last year’s self~itled in terms of content and feel alone. While that album still managed to create some magic, there was a marked difference between Amber Coffman’s era and now, which while is still present, has at least begun to put a step forward into what lies ahead for Dirty Projectors rather than the complete self~immolation of its previous attempt. It seems, however, that while Longstreth has indeed found a ‘Break~Thru’ he still has some way to go if he’s to return to his former glories which, perhaps, are now unobtainable. Δ★★Δ http://drownedinsound.com/
★★ The Glad Fact (2003)
★★ Morning Better Last! (2003)
★★ Slaves’ Graves and Ballads (2004)
★★ The Getty Address (2005)
★★ Rise Above (2007)
★★ Bitte Orca (2009)
★★ Swing Lo Magellan (2012)
★★ Dirty Projectors (2017)
★★ Lamp Lit Prose (2018)
★★ New Attitude (2006)
★★ Mount Wittenberg Orca (2010) (with Björk)
★★ About to Die (2012)
|Dirty Projectors — Lamp Lit Prose (July 13, 2018)|