Dirty Projectors’ latest a fun, angular jaunt through indie-rock experimentation
Source: Brigid Edmunds-LawrencePat Kernan and Toni Pennello discuss new releases from Body/Head, Dirty Projectors and Deafheaven.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dave Longstreth, lead singer of the Dirty Projectors, said that putting out two records in less than a year and a half “felt manic.”
Based on the band’s latest project, “Lamp Lit Prose,” that mania really comes through.
That’s a complement, by the way.
The Dirty Projectors have always been on the weird fringes of indie rock and art pop.
Their songs have always been structured like standard pop songs, but Longstreth packs his songs to the brim with oddball melodies that grow more and more intriguing with repeated listens.
This record takes that peculiar sensibility and turns it up to the max.
Featuring the backing vocals of Amber Mark, the album’s fourth track, “I Feel Energy,” is an absolute standout.
The track has, like Longstreth said, a manic sort of energy that permeates the whole song. Existing somewhere on a spectrum between disco-tinged funk and baroque pop — and no, I didn’t think such a spectrum existed either — this song is just so much fun. It’s groovy, the kind of track that is difficult not to dance to.
The chorus on “I Feel Energy” is ridiculously catchy. Longstreth uses his unusual timbre to quickly and jarringly soar to a high note, while Mark takes her time to get to the same note. It makes for an interesting dichotomy.
The track’s breezy and experimental use of horns and string instruments also calls to mind pop songs of decades ago, but this song is still firmly planted in this decade.
Longstreth also pushes his energy into compelling folk sounds, like on the following song, “Zombie Conqueror.” Featuring the vocals of Empress Of, this song feels like a rock-infused approach to traditional, almost Renaissance-era English folk songs, calling to mind the work of fellow folk oddball Richard Dawson. “Zombie Conqueror” is an endlessly compelling track to me, thanks to Longstreth’s revitalization of a very old sound — but I will admit I have a bias, with a fascination over folk sounds of antiquity.
But it’s not all old-school sounds. The opening track, “Right Now,” featuring, of all people, Syd from hip-hop act Odd Future and its R&B offshoot The Internet, is a warbling, angular R&B song with tinges of folk, or perhaps the other way around. The track makes for a beautiful introduction for the rest of the record, introducing the stuttering sound that the band explores throughout the remainder of the record.
It’s this stuttering, lurching sound that I find most compelling about the songs on here. While most speed by at normal pop-song speeds, sounds suddenly pop in and out that are just as quickly squelched.
Throughout, “Lamp Lit Prose” ends up feeling much more jagged than the average pop record. But it could be easy to miss this jaggedness, making the record rife for repeated listens. Dedicated listeners will continue to find new things to appreciate with more time spent on this one.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan.
Album: ‘Lamp Lit Prose’
Artist: Dirty Projectors
Best Track: ‘I Feel Energy’