Dirty Projectors (Jason Frank Rothenberg)

Dirty Projectors (Jason Frank Rothenberg) Credit: Dirty Projectors (Jason Frank Rothenberg)

'Swing Lo Magellan'
3 stars

It starts with a hum. Then the beat drops. The sixth studio album from Brooklyn-based indie rock band Dirty Projectors begins with the act's strengths. Opener "Offspring Are Blank" is threaded through with the irreplaceably gorgeous backing vocals for which they are well-known, juxtaposed with the restless, hip-hop rhythms that both ground their intricate arrangements and push them forward. This sense of opposing tensions is a core value of bandleader David Longstreth. His examinations reached a new level of openness with '09s "Bitte Orca," an achievement bettered here in "Magellan," with its sense of simplicity and space. Lead single "Gun Has No Trigger" sports a spare, ghostly groove behind Longstreth's unadorned vocal, which is almost unsettling in its directness. Elsewhere, the laconic, day-tripping "Dance For You," with its way-out organ interlude, dissolves into the listing dissonance of "Maybe That Was It," and member Amber Coffman steps to the fore on the blipping solo track "The Socialites," proving that any facet of this act could refract into its own ecology. The end result is that Longstreth and associates have finally created an artwork you actually want to revisit and enjoy often, infusing their complication and fragility with strong songwriting and abundant humanity.

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