Dirty Projectors is back with a reshaped identity, serving up experimental/artistic indie-pop while retaining its penchant for eclecticism and unpredictability.
After spending recent years behind the scenes ... he’s applied some of his musical tourism to Dirty Projectors to convey a batch of hyper-specific lyrics through an often-thrilling blend of electronica, prog-rock, Afro-beat, R&B, and pop.
Dirty Projectors may be a breakup record, and one with its fair share of petty sniping ... but, cathartic and redemptive, it’s one worth getting to know.
Reduced to his own devices, our gentleman hero has crafted both the most intrinsically soulful, emotional, and heartfelt record of his career. No less, he's delivered on one of music's greatest archetypes – and with aplomb.
At times, Dirty Projectors recalls the polyphonic adventurism of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million and Sufjan Stevens’ The Age Of Adz. Like those records, it takes conventional songs and plants bombs beneath them, but Longstreth’s immersion is more brazen.
Heartbreak can be overwhelming, inspiring, and exhausting, and with Dirty Projectors, Longstreth has birthed an album that strives to not only reflect that, but to mimic it, too.
The record works not because it feels cynical, but because beneath the obvious lyrical headlines, you can sense Longstreth’s genuine enthusiasm for the new forms he’s exploring so vigorously.
The broken-hearted Longstreth sounds like a changed man in many respects, but he's no less talented and visionary than he was before, and Dirty Projectors demonstrates that musically and lyrically, love and its absence have taught him a thing or two.
Complex layered production and funky beats jump off in different directions mixing autotune with tracked voices, everything zeroing back in on the trauma of love lost and love obliterated.
At times, its unflinchingly honest exploration of post-breakup stages and head spaces is difficult listening. But this is also its biggest strength, as Longstreth’s lyrics take the listener through bitterness, anger, melancholy, self-pity and remorse.
Longstreth may be lonely, but he isn't alone, and his collaborators push him to new heights.
It affords listeners the space to grapple with the loss of Dirty Projectors in their previous form, while dispensing enough nurturing, boundary-breaking tonic to ensure that the first run-out for the project's next chapter is shrouded in optimism rather than dissolution, unforeseen obstacles and all.
For the most part ... this is work of emotional and musical maturity: sad, complex and sometimes profound.
In what is ostensibly a solo record with a few high-profile collaborations, Dave Longstreth masterfully peels away layer after layer of heartbreak across a strange, dizzying pop album.
As a solo project, Dirty Projectors works well. As significant of a shift as this album is from past Dirty Projectors’ records, the detailed production and arranging work shows Longstreth put all of himself into making it.
Whilst self-titling the record helps bring the project back into relevance after a long hiatus, it also seems to affirm its own identity after its own loss; the record features neither Coffman nor Angel Deradoorian, but it is still a Dirty Projectors record.
Voyeuristic as it is, Dirty Projectors truly does feel like a record he had to make, not to mention one that's well worth our attention.
What Longstreth attempts to pass as daring, confessional experimentation often veers closer to self-indulgence, however, and too often he comes across as an unsympathetic character in his own narrative.
Only occasionally ... does Longstreth’s wonderful musical inventiveness distract sufficiently from the distinctly unbecoming, angry and chiding atmosphere of ‘Dirty Projectors’.
The songs do feel new, untested, sharply divorced from previous iterations of the band. Gone is the tuneful swirl of female vocals that made the Bitte Orca-era songs sound so delirious and vibrant.
Dirty Projectors mainly functions as just that: a snapshot of an artist as viewed from the outside, struggling to create something that applies to anybody but himself.
We can only assume that there’s a deep meaning within the songs’ hall-of-mirrors approach to songwriting, but Dirty Projectors ultimately leaves one too puzzled to empathize with apart from letting out a false, mouth-gaping awe.
David Longstreth’s account of his separation from former bandmate Amber Coffman told through a welter of autotuned, over-treated vocals and jumble of clashing sounds that, to be generous, may be intended as an analogue of the ground shifting beneath their disintegrating relationship.