STAFF PICK: Dirty Projectors by Dirty Projectors
“What I want from art is truth, what you want is fame,” Longstreth jabs at his ex, Amber Coffman, on the opener of Dirty Projectors. Hearing the single for the first time was jarring. Amid his mourning floats a sample from ‘Impregnable Question,’ namely “We don’t see eye to eye.” Even more incendiary, perhaps, was his decision to title the record Dirty Projectors. It’s his project now. He wanted to make something entirely indistinguishable from his previous works; that is precisely what he has done.
Every song is a testament to Longstreth’s production skills. Each component of his compositions ring clearly, but they often result in an overpowering electric calling to mind Sufjan Stevens’ Age of Adz. These moments are artfully spaced, and are offset by more emotionally loaded spacy moments. Similarly, he has let almost nothing be recorded organically, which makes the opening strings of ‘Little Bubble’ all the more impactful.
Uncharacteristic of previous releases, this record is all over the place. There is no singular thread tying his compositions together, and little remains of his longstanding acoustic sensibilities. Instead, analog instruments are overpowered by sawtooth synths, and Longstreth’s vocal harmonies are emboldened by a newfound love for pitch-shifting. It’s no surprise that the record should feel fractured. On ‘Winner Take Nothing,’ he sings, “This has turned me against myself/In losing you, I lost myself.” This is David Longstreth’s 808s and Heartbreaks, and he won’t shy away from admitting it.
In fact, he references Kanye twice, and that specific album by name. The influences are clear; among the usual crooning and chattering tribal drums are songs with generous auto-tune and heavily hip-hop influenced beats. The tail end of one such track, ‘Ascent Through Clouds,’ features a telling lyric from Longstreth: “Even though I wanna/I find it hard to stay in constant contact/I gotta go my own way.” Instead of using his music as an escape, here he uses it as an outlet; he does not shy away from the pain he feels. The result is the best album of 2017 so far, and the strongest Dirty Projectors release to date.
Listen to Dirty Projectors here: