Dirty Projectors
Lamp Lit Prose


4.1
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 13th, 2018 | 42 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Laughing in flowers of sun

Last year, Dirty Projectors saw the “band” in shambles. Beautiful experimental shambles, sure, but there’s no mistaking that frontman Dave Longstreth was reeling. What was a five piece outfit as recently as Swing Lo Magellan had been widdled down to a solo act after bandmate and longtime girlfriend Amber Coffman departed on the heels of a very messy, very public breakup. Longstreth, who began the project on his own while adding members gradually, saw things come full circle and was forced back to the drawing board. In a way, a self-titled album has never made more sense; Longstreth is Dirty Projectors. He’s the heart and soul of the project, the anchor that keeps churning out music through thick and thin. That “my side of the story” album was predictably spiteful and venomous, even if the aching strings and wailing falsetto made it hard not to feel for the guy. More interesting than the vindictive, depressive lyrics was the incorporation of various R&B and hip-hop influences; a byproduct of counsel-seeking with the likes of Kanye and Solange. It was a crossover pop album through and through, while retaining the classic sense of experimentation that has coursed through Dirty Projector’s veins since its inception. All told, it made for a bold if slightly disorienting reintroduction to Longstreth’s music.

Whereas Dirty Projectors was fashioned for the frostbitten air of February, Lamp Lit Prose frolics in July’s warmth. It’s the sun to its moon; the thaw after the freeze. The vibrant acoustic guitars again flourish, with ‘Right Now’ and ‘That’s a Lifestyle’ weaving sweet, burgeoning melodies ripe for the plucking. Longstreth makes no effort to conceal the tonal updraft, either – the penultimate ‘You’re The One’, featuring Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, is merely a snapshot of Lamp Lit Prose’s overwhelming exuberance in which Longstreth seems to be spellbound by love’s honeymoon phase: “Till the earth absorbs us, laughing in flowers of sun / I choose to be yours because you're the one.” Everything here glows with a similar optimism, either bounding from a to b with a skip and a hop (the slick, groovy ‘Break-Thru’), or casually strolling up the shoreline, taking in all of life’s silver linings (‘Blue Bird’). Basically, it’s this group’s Pet Sounds.

As with most Dirty Projectors albums, Lamp Lit Prose’s experimentation borders on sensory overload. Take in the happy summer vibes here, and it’s even more over-the-top – a prospect that could be a turn-off for anyone who found the previous outing to be hectic. Longstreth still overindulges that high falsetto usage, too – something he struggles to get away with this time without the lower register of a ‘Keep Your Name’ to strike balance and contrast. Still, for those who don’t mind their music odd and eclectic to a nearly ridiculous extent, Lamp Lit Prose offers an enormous spectrum of sound to satisfy that craving. ‘I Feel Energy’ is somewhere between a Justin Timberlake summer radio jam and a trumpet-filled 1970s Chicago greatest hit. ‘Zombie Conqueror’ transitions manically between pristine acoustic picking and a menacing electric guitar/kick drum interchange – oh, and not to mention a guest vocal spot from Empress Of. ‘You’re The One’ mellows the tempo by utilizing little more than an acoustic guitar, reciting simple but heartwarming notions like “with you, I feel it more”. Then, almost as if to follow suit, the closing ‘(I Wanna) Feel It All)’ is also more minimal – for Dirty Projectors, that is – flowing gracefully on a river of gentle pianos, pan flutes, and a spacey, synthed-out undercurrent. There’s a ton to absorb here, and nearly all of it is breathtaking on its own. The only problem comes when you string them all together, where each track’s individual colors and flavors can coalesce into something a tad overstimulating.

Lamp Lit Prose marks the shortest turnaround between records for Dirty Projectors. Perhaps inspiration struck hard and fast, what with Longstreth apparently on cloud nine and in love again. It’s easily the project’s most happy-go-lucky affair, a trait that results in some mildly cheesy lyrics (clichés like “change is the only constant”; there’s also an awkward line about Julian Casablancas that Longstreth fumbles with) , but at the end of the day it’s mostly just irresistible to indulge. It’s like arriving on the beautiful shores of Aruba after spending a year snowbound in Ontario. It may not be as emotionally significant as Dirty Projectors or as instrumentally adept as Swing Lo Magellan, but it’s sure nice to hear Dave Longstreth enjoying himself again. Lamp Lit Prose is an exercise in exactly that: letting loose, writing from the heart, and rediscovering the things in life that make you happy. So lower the windows, crank that volume, and sing along at the top of your lungs.




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user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
July 13th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I still prefer the more depressing ruminations and hip-hop influences of the self-titled, but this is damn good for being such a quick turnaround LP.

Digging: mewithoutYou - [Untitled]

gschwen
July 13th 2018


65 Comments


Nice review. Don't know much about the band's other works but this one is alright. I thought Zombie Conqueror into Bluebird was when I found myself most engaged with the album. It's a light-hearted affair. Lots of R&B influence, great instrumentation. Not sure if it's my cup of tea but it's not awful. I might give this another spin. Looking like a 3, maybe a 3.5 someday.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 13th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Yeah the R&B influences definitely carried over from 2017's self-titled. Not many people on this site appreciated it as much as I did, but I viewed that as a landmark album for the band (and really, just for Longstreth). That record basically transformed the project from indie-rock to pop/R&B, even with some light rap verses. This album has more in common with Dirty Projectors than it does Swing Lo Magellan, Bitte Orca, or any of the preceding releases. It's essentially just a tonal shift from 100% depressed and shattered to lovestruck and wanting everyone to vibe along with your happiness.

bloc
July 13th 2018


52233 Comments


Heard 10 seconds of one of their music vids and turned it off

Digging: Edan - Beauty and the Beat

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 13th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Must have been an incredible 10 seconds for you to finish so quickly!

McTime50
July 13th 2018


587 Comments


I think I gave the s/t album last year a passing glance, but I don't remember much of it. I might check this one out, though.

Digging: The Story So Far - Proper Dose

SandwichBubble
July 13th 2018


7425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I liked this a whole lot more than their last record, that's for sure. Really close to a 3.5

Digging: Skoal Kodiak - Three People Are Keep Having Grape Emergencys

Dewinged
July 14th 2018


11240 Comments


I could never get into this band, it's just not for me, but good review Sow.

Digging: Ancestors - Suspended in Reflections

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 14th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

"I think I gave the s/t album last year a passing glance, but I don't remember much of it. I might check this one out, though."

I think the s/t was better than this, so good luck. However, this is a good bit happier/more enjoyable as a casual, fun listen.



Surprised SB liked this more, honestly, but I get it.



and ty Dewi :-)

JohnZapp
July 14th 2018


32 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ZzzzoooooooOOOOOmbie CONQUeeeeerrrrrrrr

SandwichBubble
July 14th 2018


7425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@Sowing I was surprised too, trust me. I'd probably rate this even higher if the production wasn't so smothering

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 14th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

yeah, Longstreth has always been frenetic, but smothering is the right word for his production on the last two records.



I went back and listened to Swing Lo Magellan to compare and that album is just so much easier to listen to

Eons
July 14th 2018


1820 Comments


What's with his obsession with blue balls!

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 14th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

I love the artwork tbh. Feels artsy/abstract and the exact kind of bs I adore.

SandwichBubble
July 14th 2018


7425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cover is really appealing to me, no idea why

Zombie Conqueror and the last track are so good, early projectors vibes

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 15th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Yeah man you just mentioned two of my favorites. (I Wanna) Feel It All is especially pretty. I like how it's a little less bogged down production wise too.

luci
July 15th 2018


10036 Comments


Enjoying this. Kinda feels like a retread of the previous one but with the garish edges trimmed off. A smoother experience this time.

plane
Emeritus
July 15th 2018


7238 Comments


Pleasantly surprised by this. Not sure about the shelf life, but feels good in the heatwave.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 15th 2018


28114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Basically agree with that sentiment. I don't think this has tremendous staying power but it's a nice, breezy experimental pop indulgence.

luci
July 16th 2018


10036 Comments


break-thru rules, though it sounds like a commissioned track for a commercial



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