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Songs from New Dirty Projectors album strike a more approachable chord



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David Longstreth from the band Dirty Projectors plays at a concert in 2013. The Brooklyn indie-rock band recently released its eighth album, "Lamp Lit Prose." Tribune News Service Buy Photos

Not everyone loves the trademark, dissonant harmonies and unique poly-rhythms from the Brooklyn-based indie-rock band, Dirty Projectors. 

For some, the novel style of band leader, Dave Longstreth can be unsettling, but for others it’s pure genius. The most recent album, “Lamp Lit Prose,” may be a game changer for those who have historically been only lukewarm for the D.P. sound.

“Lamp Lit Prose” features three tunes with undeniably catchy melodies and peppy drum beats that are way more approachable and predictable than songs from the 2007 album, “Rise Above.” Don’t worry if you are a fan of the standard, crazy-layered songs that sound like 10 songs and genres all rolled into one, because there are still plenty of those on the album too.

Several songs on the album feature lyrics about societal issues, but the majority of tunes on the 10-song album feature lyrics about being in love. According to Rolling Stone, Longstreth and former D.P. band member Amber Coffman ended their six-year romantic relationship in 2012 and stopped speaking in 2015. Subsequently, Longstreth took a hiatus from producing his own music and immersed himself in writing and producing for other artists, namely Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney. 

Longstreth eventually came back to his own work and wound up producing two albums in 16 months: “Dirty Projectors” and “Lamp Lit Prose.”  Longstreth told Rolling Stone the self-titled “Dirty Projectors” album is a break-up album. “Lamp Lit Prose” is clearly an album of new love and new influences from Longstreth’s recent partnerships with rap and pop artists. 

In addition to a new band lineup, Longstreth collaborated with a number of previously established artists, including former Vampire Weekend member, RostamBatmanglij and Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes for songs on “Lamp Lit Prose,” according to Vanity Fair.  Longstreth also told Vanity Fair he used sounds of a Japanese cricket that Björk sent him for the song, “I Feel Energy (feat. Amber Mark).”

While the first song on Lamp Lit, “Right Now (feat. Syd),” does use what sounds like sticks banging on cooking pots and a food processor whirring in the background, the beat is very rhythmic and satisfying in pop/rap way. This soulful pop song features a horn section and a beautiful call-and-response section between Longstreth and vocalist, Felicia Douglass. 

There are still weird things about the song, such as the deep, reverberating vocoder effect —something that analyzes and synthesizes the human voice — Longstreth uses at one point on his voice, but ultimately this song is one I recommend for people who have not yet found love for D.P. 

I also recommend the songs “I Feel Energy (feat. Amber Mark),” “Break-Thru” and “That’s a Lifestyle.” 

“I Feel Energy” touches on several genres, but begins as a heart-pumping disco tune mixed with vocals reminiscent of both Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. The song does not feature Longstreth’s usual intricate guitar work but does end with the unexpected addition of a classical string section. 

“Break-Thru,” is an undeniably danceable, pop tune with a warm and infectious guitar melody. Be careful, because this one will repeat mercilessly in your head once you’ve heard it. D.P. released a cheerful  music video for this song featuring Longstreth singing and playing guitar while cockatoos land on his shoulder and macaws bob to the beat.    

“That’s a Lifestyle” starts off with a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young-style guitar section then gets funky with slightly off-kilter guitar melodies. The mainstream and upbeat sounding chorus is an intriguing juxtaposition to its dark statement about the world in which we live.  The message of the song touches a nerve for me when I think about politics under the current administration. 

"'Cause the monster eats its young ‘till they're gone, gone, gone and the rules are there to hurt and that's the way it's done,” Longstreth sings. “Who will stop wasting the lives of the brave based on a lie, who will stop wasting the forest and seas?”

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