Album Review: Dirty Projectors, Dirty Projectors

Affecting break-up LP from alt-pop mavericks.

Has Dave Longstreth written his Lemonade? It’s five years since Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan, in the aftermath of which the Brooklyn ensemble’s leader endured a painful split from bandmate Amber Coffman. Here he delves unflinchingly into the break-up, employing an emotion-drenched palette of processed beats, sobbing r’n’b tempos and vocals drizzly with melancholy.

Longstreth stretched himself artistically during the group’s hiatus, writing with Solange and Kanye among others. Those influences have audibly rubbed off. Opener ‘Keep Your Name’ materialises in a swirl of slurred vocals; the flagellatory ‘Death Spiral’ demonstrates Kanye levels of ‘the whole world hates me’ ego.

But indie rocker Longstreth is cursed with a self-awareness that eludes many of his chums from the world of r’n’b. Over the course of this extraordinary record, he makes peace with romantic loss (the Bon Iver-esque ‘Ascent Through the Clouds’) before, on cooly twitchy Solange hook-up, ‘Cool Your Heart’, finally reaching a tentative optimism.

The message – that even the most oppressive clouds lift eventually – is hardly original. Yet Longstreth arrives at the conclusion honestly and humbly. Along the way, he may well have crafted Dirty Projectors’ masterpiece.

 

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