There was an unusually long break between Dirty Projectors’ sixth and seventh album, Swing Lo Magellan and last year’s darker, very personal self-titled record – just under five years to be exact. Project leader David Longstreth needed the break as members of the long-running project (including singer Amber Coffman) disbanded, leaving the singer-songwriter alone. The album was a proper solo-record, featuring self-reflective lyrics and heartbreak aplenty.
Rather than spend another five years stewing over lost love, Longstreth has decided instead to burst back onto the scene with another Dirty Projectors album. And its invigorating, the mood upbeat and uplifting, the trumpets loud and proud. Just look at the artwork, now filled with colour where the self-titled seventh record was bleak. Longstreth’s music’s happy again.
Lamp Lit Prose continues the artist’s growth, mixing twangy acoustic guitars, electric pianos, sampled vocals, tinny drums and fun vocal melodies to create a unique pop record. The mixture does not always work – at times becoming a relentless mix of disorientating noise (”I Found It In You”) – but Longstreth’s vocals act as the anchor to the record.
The first three tracks – “Right Now”, “Break-Thru”, and “That’s A Lifestyle” – are prime indie-pop, taking from Yeasayers and Vampire Weekend (former multiinstrumenatlist Rostam later features on the record) while “I Feel Energy” feels like a completely reimagined Michael Jackson song. The record then goes into the particularly odd with “Zombie Conqueror”, mixing a Texas stomp with a treble-heavy punk guitar, the track never quite achieving the heights it promises. Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold joins for a softer ballad towards the end, while the last track “(I Wanna) Feel It All” sees things out on a particularly odd, flute-filled affair.
The hodgepodge of ideas can make for challenging listening towards the end, but Lamp Lit Prose feels like Longstreth’s back having fun, playing with ideas, every listen offering up something new to discover.
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