"Lamp Lit Prose"
BOTTOM LINE Creating an ambitious new musical world in their indie-rock image.
Dirty Projectors mastermind Dave Longstreth has made his mark on music as much by working with Rihanna, Solange and Kanye West as he has with the Brooklyn-based band.
But “Lamp Lit Prose” (Domino) should change that. In its 10 tracks, Longstreth creates a joyful world brimming with Afro-punk guitars, indie rock beats and gorgeous vocal harmonies. Though the unique style is always welcoming, it takes a few listens to get used to its eccentricities.
The jubilant “Break-Thru” may name-drop Archimedes and The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas over a loop of celebratory African guitars, but it could easily fit on some adventurous pop radio station right now, especially when Longstreth starts chopping up his vocals to give them a hip-hop feel. The zany “Zombie Conqueror” moves between galloping British classic rock and early Built to Spill math rock, as he sings of townspeople and mini-malls, though the question remains open of who are actually the zombies. “I Feel Energy” is a funky jumble of horn-tastic Latin grooves, disco, electro-pop, Justin Timberlake-y falsettos and deep thoughts like “Are we fundamentally alone in the universe?”
But Dirty Projectors also twist more traditional forms to suit their new ideas. On “What Time Is the Time,” Longstreth croons like Elvis Costello before adopting a soulful falsetto to build an edgy love song. The Haim sisters add sweet harmonies to “That’s a Lifestyle” to balance out a chorus about a monster eating its young. The pretty folk ballad “You’re the One,” which includes Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam on harmonies, may sound straightforward musically, but it still includes lyrical twists like “Change is the only constant law.”
With “Lamp Lit Prose,” Longstreth and Dirty Projectors have created a multilayered, fascinating alternate universe to today’s pop world that makes for a highly entertaining visit.