To a recent convert, the Dirty Projectors’ music is more than a little eclectic. The Brooklyn group’s sound is all over the place as it draws on rock, pop, folk and R&B. With its varying styles and tempos, the band’s freeform music doesn’t follow conventional songcraft. And a huge part of the Projectors’ sonic identity is the blending of leader Dave Longstreth’s reedy and soulful voice with that of the female members’ gospel-ish backup singing.
The Projectors’ adventurous and ambitious music continues with their new album Swing Lo Magellan, out today–just in time for their performance in Prospect Park tonight–the follow-up to 2009’s Bitte Orca. (In a press release, Longstreth says, “It’s an album of songs, an album of songwriting.”). Longstreth and co’s experimentations continue with tracks like “Offspring are Blank,” which starts off ominous and soulful before the Zeppelin-like heavy guitars and drums kick in; “About to Die” exudes a funk sensibility while marrying what sounds like a touch of banjo with strings and polyrhythmic percussion; and “Maybe That Was It” sounds slow and psychedelic. Yet Swing Lo Magellan has a few tracks that can be described as straightforward and accessible: the Dylan-sounding title track, the lovely and charming “Dance For You,” and the romantic-sounding “Impregnable Question.” Ironically and perhaps fittingly, the album closes out with a very simple and spare track, “Irresponsible Tune.”
While their experimental approach can be dissonant and challenging one sense, Dirty Projectors also manage to keep things original and cohesive–which make Swing Lo Magellan all the more triumphant and rewarding.