Dirty Projectors
Dirty Projectors


4.7
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 22nd, 2017 | 142 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We won't be afraid to grow

With Dirty Projectors, Dave Longstreth has come full circle. The musical vessel that began in 2001 as a solitary endeavor has always possessed malleable qualities; adjusting and adapting just like the life of its versatile frontman. Longstreth initially created five of his Dirty Projector albums alone before he even so much as finished college, but then proceeded to surround himself with bandmates as touring ramped up and the band as a whole started gaining momentum. The project has always morphed based on the twists and turns of Longstreth’s life, and here we see the product of his highly-publicized breakup with longtime girlfriend/ex-bandmate Amber Coffman. For the first time since 2005’s The Getty Address, Dirty Projectors is once again a solo effort, and the effects can be heard all across this record’s enormous, emotionally shattered scope. Dave harmonizes vocals with himself, retreats inwards lyrically, and extends his reach as far as he ever has sonically. True to Dirty Projectors’ reputation as burgeoning experimentalists, their eponymous ninth record brings forth even more boundary-testing change. As such, Dirty Projectors marks yet another reshaping of Longstreth’s musical identity.

Tracks such as ‘Keep Your Name’ and ‘Little Bubble’ want to pronounce Dirty Projectors as a breakup album of sorts, splashing the album’s canvas in grayscale while reciting forsaken poetry. The lyrics and overall aura of this album are truly down in the dumps, but Dirty Projectors is less about identifying with Longstreth’s despair as it is about recognizing the art he’s created as a byproduct of that pain. Sure, lines like “I don't know why you abandoned me / You were my soul and my partner” hit hard, but it’s placing those lines atop a distorted loop of Swing Lo Magellan’s ‘Impregnable Question’ – a love ballad once sung as a duet with Coffman – that places things squarely into perspective. Critics will be quick to default to the lyrics as a means of illustrating Dave’s struggles with the breakup, but it is through the music that he speaks the loudest. Collaborating with the likes of Kanye, Solange, and Joanna Newsom appears to have only throttled his creative appetite here, and the musical directions pursued range from fascinatingly quirky to devastatingly genius.

Dirty Projectors is essentially a fusion between indie-rock and art-pop, taking the band’s long standing identity and supplementing it with ideas that are equally as daring and forward-thinking, only the parallel genre equivalent of Frank Ocean’s Blonde or Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! . Longstreth digs up a lot of soul here, mixes in the warped production and glitch-filled warblings of 22, A Million, and even crosses it with some surprisingly well-executed hip hop elements (see ‘Keep Your Name’ and ‘Winner Take Nothing’). The richness of the textures and production are sometimes too much, as the occasionally aimless ‘Work Together’ can attest to, but more often than not the sensory overload is worthwhile. For without it, we might not have the majestic brass that opens ‘Up In Hudson’, the off-kilter and slightly crazy strings that interlude ‘Little Bubble’, or the stomping rhythm that results in a handful of blissful interrupts during ‘Ascent Through Clouds.’ The madness of this album is best observed in these sorts of “little moments”, even if when pieced together the image can become a little blurry. Perhaps that’s Longstreth’s intent: to take all of the emotions swirling around in his mind and simply let them scatter where they may. Losing a longtime relationship is, after all, no clean-cut affair.

The most telling moment, at least in terms of emotional significance, shines through on ‘I See You’ – the album’s closing track and a brilliant narrative of personal growth. Dirty Projectors winds and tumbles through an assortment of feelings, groping about blindly at times in an effort to recognize what it all means. ‘I See You’ finds that storm of firing neurons and coalesces it all into something that finally looks towards the future. There’s this final understanding reached that equates romantic relationships to art – this representation of who we are at a singular point in time; a still frame photo of real life – and ultimately declares “we won't be afraid to grow.” It’s a beautiful intersection between Dave’s life and his art, and as he sings “forward and into it…future imagined by neither of us”, it’s a testament to the unfurling potential of a solo Longstreth.

As he comes full circle, seemingly in music and life, Dave Longstreth finds himself both wiser and a different person than he was back in 2001. It feels like just the cliché that a breakup album review needs, followed by some anecdote about how he has triumphed over his inner demons. Glaringly apparent (yet true) observations aside however, Dirty Projectors proves that the project is as viable as ever following what could have been a disastrous chasm within the band. It continues to evolve with Longstreth, as it always has and will seemingly continue to do. Sure, this isn’t the same identity that it assumed on The Glad Fact or even Swing Lo Magellan, but that’s life. Dirty Projectors is back with a reshaped identity, serving up experimental/artistic indie-pop while retaining its penchant for eclecticism and unpredictability. The musical project will continue to challenge both Longstreth and his listeners through all of the twisted, pothole-filled back roads of life, while taking snapshots of where it’s at during every rest stop. For Dave, Dirty Projectors marks one of his most compelling images yet.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
February 22nd 2017


23153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

This is so far up my alley it isn't even funny. Best album of 2017 to this point.

Digging: bansheebeat - Lumine

theBoneyKing
February 22nd 2017


8455 Comments


So begins the neverending list of hyperbolic Sowing ratings for 2017 ;-P

Digging: Spoon - Hot Thoughts

FreddieDelaney31
February 22nd 2017


2689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Phenomenal review, showing me how it's done haha

Obviously I agree very much, this is just a stunning album

Digging: Drake - More Life

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 22nd 2017


23153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Your review is incredible too Freddie, arguably as good or better than this tbh. I just saw it after posting this.

"So begins the neverending list of hyperbolic Sowing ratings for 2017 ;-P "

Hey, if I've got a 0-100 scale I might as well use it! For me this gets a 94.

theBoneyKing
February 22nd 2017


8455 Comments


Just 5 everything

Sampled bits of this, don't think it's my kind of thing unfortunately.

FreddieDelaney31
February 22nd 2017


2689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dunno about all that but I certainly appreciate the praise!

If I have only checked out the last 3 from Dirty Projectors and this is easily my favorite, are there any other releases I should check out?

plane
Emeritus
February 22nd 2017


6532 Comments


I wish my heart loved this like my mind and body do. It might be because, contrary to your review, I don't think he's triumphed over his inner demons, but rather let them guide his pen. It's so... petty. But as far as depressive bleeding heart satires on the artificial constructs of pop music brand image, fame and loving relationships go (and the intersection of such, sold as art)... it's pretty damn good.

literallyzach
February 22nd 2017


81 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm really enjoying this album, going to try and post a review sometime this week

Digging: Susumu Hirasawa - Paprika

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 22nd 2017


23153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

I felt like this was kind of bitter too (letting his demons guide the pen), but I really think he shows growth over the last few tracks and reveals he has come to peace with the breakup and wishes all parties the best.

ABjordanMM
February 22nd 2017


1654 Comments


"Best album of 2017 to this point."

You mean besides the new SKM

FullOfSounds
February 22nd 2017


13854 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

That good eh? I liked the lead single quite a bit but I wanna look into this band's past more

Digging: Crying - Beyond The Fleeting Gales

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 22nd 2017


23153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Check out Swing Lo Magellan. I rated it a 4 back in 2012 which means it's like a 4.6 by my standards now (lol) and also it's way more accessible than this is.

jefflebowski
February 22nd 2017


8515 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

clarence clarity did this 2 years earlier and 100000000x better

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 22nd 2017


23153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

everyone has done everything better tho tbh.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2017


11744 Comments


oh this is like Clarence Clarity?? count me in

Digging: Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me

FreddieDelaney31
February 22nd 2017


2689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no idea who Clarence Clarity is, guessing i should check it out

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2017


11744 Comments


oh for sure dude

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 22nd 2017


23153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

99% of the time in my experience when someone on this site tells me, "oh, they sound exactly like _____ only not nearly as good" the original band they claim is so much better sounds about half as good. But the mere possibility of finding another album I like as much as this and in the same style is too hard to resist. Just bookmarked CC on my list of bands to check.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2017


11744 Comments


CC is a lot glitchier and ~weirder~ but after listening to Keep Your Name def has the same feel as these guys. surprised you havent checked them yet Sowing tbh

FreddieDelaney31
February 22nd 2017


2689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

anything remotely like Keep Your Name i will devour so consider me very hyped



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