Dirty Projectors’ New Album “Swing Lo Magellan”, More Musical Chores from Brooklyn, NYC.

Dirty Projectors are another in that line of bands who go to a great deal of trouble trying ever so hard to impress. And although you don’t have to come from Brooklyn to be part of that gang, it certainly seems to help. Get those beards a ready for some serious stroking.

Sure enough, their latest album Swing Lo Magellan arrives festooned with praise, much as its predecessor Bitte Orca did.

The boys from Pravda gave it a hushed 8.8 on Pitchfork, here. And you’ve that sense of obligation as you listen to it, that this is something that you really ought to be appreciating. But once again this is an album that refuses resolutely to do anything as mundane as actually engage.

Instead, all you get as you listen to it is the impression that the smartest boys in the class have been locked into their favourite science lab with a bunch of old 80s vinyl, some early Orange Juice, Thomas Dolby, a bit of Heaven 17, and told to find as many mathematically interesting ways of building on their sonic structures.

The results are certainly never dull. But every time a melody threatens to raise its head, it’s ruthlessly beaten down with a fantastically complex time signature. Or the kind of melodic undermining favoured by Thelonious Monk. Or just some good old fashioned, atonal dissonance. And it’s hard not to find yourself wondering, any chance of a tune?

It does briefly threaten to come to life with track 3, “Gun Has No Trigger”, the video for which you can see here. But like “Two Doves” from Bitte Orca, all that does is give you a sense of what might have been.

As those two tracks show, the band’s front man David Longstreth has gathered together three fantastic female vocalists. What a pity he doesn’t make more use of them.

Instead, all he sounds like is a teenage boy trying to impress the girls with all the many things he knows and is all too eager to tell them about, at great length. When all they want is for him to engage with them, emotionally. 

Sign up for a subscription right or below, and I shall keep you posted every week with All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Television and Music!