Release Date: Jul 13, 2018
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Just 18 months have passed between Dirty Projectors' last album and Lamp Lit Prose, a rapid turnaround which frontman/Projector-in-Chief Dave Longstreth puts down to his decision not to tour in support of the release. Looking back, it's easy to see why. An excellent, but often uncomfortable break up record, detailing the end of Longstreth's relationship with former bandmate Amber Coffman, Dirty Projectors' every word, every sound – all the grossly pitch-shifted vocals and dense, twisted r'n'b – seemed to pine for lost love and seek salve for wounded masculine ego.
Love triumphs on the band's most intriguing and joyous album since 2009's breakthrough 'Bitte Orca' Rarely has an album so full of joy and life started in such a sombre way. "The sky has darkened, Earth turned to Hell," Dirty Projectors' creative force Dave Longstreth warbles on the opening song, 'Right Now'. By the end of the song, however, he's lifted up and is ready to turn a new page: "You pulled me up when you took my hand / There was silence in my heart and now I'm striking up the band." From bleakness, love has been allowed to blossom.
"I don't know how I'm gonna be a better man/I don't know how I'm gonna reach the promised land/I don't know how I'm gonna get you to take my hand/But I'm gonna start and I know when. " With these words in the first track on Dirty Projectors' 2018 release Lamp Lit Prose, David Longstreth (the group's leader and solo constant member) shares the good news: he's feeling better now. On 2017's self-titled Dirty Projectors, Longstreth was reeling from a tough romantic breakup, and a dark mood dominated the material, as well as a greater reliance on electronics and vocal manipulation.
Dave Longstreth seems to have undergone some kind of an awakening. 2017's self-titled LP focused heavily on the break-up between him and former partner and bandmate Amber Coffman, featuring long, mournful songs full of glitchy electronics and R&B-influenced vocals. Only a year later, his 9th Dirty Projectors album 'Lamp Lit Prose' is a decidedly more organic record; buoyant and witty, and notably shy of meandering eight-minute odysseys.
For years, Dirty Projectors have been making innovative, glitchy, experimental art-pop. With their eighth studio album--produced by frontman David Longstreth--they prove they have no shortage of ideas or creative ways of executing them, though some wind up working better than others. A skittery beat, blasts of brass, and Longstreth's heavily digi-altered voice anchor the opening of the album--an interesting, cerebral mixture called "Right Now." The result is white-guy, alt-R&B that sounds like, well, a white guy that went to Yale trying to making alt-R&B.
Last year, the least visceral artist in indie rock slung his guts on the table. Dirty Projectors cataloged the shrapnel of Dave Longstreth's breakup, enshrining his memories in indie-rock, hip-hop, and whatever other styles took root. What came out was a record so calculating and emotionally ugly that Longstreth found it impossible to tour behind. Instead, he tinkered with a follow-up, Lamp Lit Prose, which backgrounds first-person narratives and revives a more hopeful, chipper kind of songwriting.
Listen and subscribe via iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: Last year's Dirty Projectors album, the first in five years and a response to David Longstreth's breakup with Amber Coffman, found Longstreth cold and bitter, marked by petty and petulant lyrics that accompanied his bleary-eyed examination of heartbreak. Released less than 18 months later, Lamp Lit Prose hits as a reflexive beam of positivity, a bright journey into a new love that finds Longstreth brimming with light. Incorporating soul and funk gives him a pep in his step that's been missing on the past couple of releases, a return to the joyous sounds of Bitte Orca that propelled the band to stardom nearly a decade ago.
Taking a new Dirty Projectors record for a spin is always a qualified step into uncertainty. The basics will feel the same but that's about it. Lamp Lit Prose is no exception, changing direction from the maudlin, polyrhythmic glitchy dance of last year's self-titled seventh LP. Back then Dave Longstreth was finally unburdening himself of the bitter heartbreak following the end of his relationship with former Dirty Projectors member Amber Coffman.
That lyric of adolescent reminiscence, of restrained heartbreak, is the kind of contemplative, romantic poetry that set Dirty Projectors apart from the lo-fi outsider artists who came into being alongside the band in the early aughts. On "Finches," Orange Crush was the sugary, calorically empty drink of romance. On Bitte Orca's "Temecula Sunrise," the libation of choice changed to Gatorade as Longstreth and his partner sipped heartily in afterglow.
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.
"Break-Thru", the second track, is so cluttered that it becomes hard to follow anything after about fifteen seconds: an unidentified instrumental squonk runs through the entire song, and bounces off winding, buoyant Vampire Weekend/Graceland guitars. The disappointing thing is that it sounds like someone 'doing' Dirty Projectors rather than the actual folks themselves. When David Longstreth & Co.
During its initial rise, Dave Longstreth's art-rock conglomerate Dirty Projectors rode on being somewhat inscrutable. At the turn of the decade, the band's approach shifted into personal, personable verses. On both last year's self-titled album and "Lamp Lit Prose," which releases Friday, Longstreth is singing his own story and little else. The albums seem two sides of the same coin, coming after a lengthy wait for new material.
Gorgeously eccentric and cogently mismatched, Dirty Projectors' eighth album 'Lamp Lit Prose' is an achievement in glitch-pop. Decades after dial-up left the mainstream sonic atmosphere, David Longstreth's experimental collective brings the prior strength of the project into its newest incarnation. The return of guitars to Dirty Projectors' lineup brings a dimension of reality to the record, while maintaining the bizarre futurism clear throughout its ten songs.