tue 17/07/2018

CD: Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose

CD: Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose

Crisp and inventive production shine through a musical odyssey

An impressive list of collaborators join Dirty Projectors for their ninth release

Lamp Lit Prose is the ninth Dirty Projectors album since 2003, an incredibly prolific output for any artist. All the more impressive when you consider it’s the project of producer/songwriter David Longstreth, who also finds time to collaborate with artists such as Rihanna, Kanye, Paul McCartney and Solange. Such a notable CV befits an act as innovative as Dirty Projectors, and their latest release further demonstrates the talent on show.

“Change is the only constant law” sings Longstreth, an appropriate lyric as Lamp Lit Prose is a journey of shifting influences. Tracks range from folk and jazz to R&B and electro, all strung together by the band’s signature production. As a listener, you’re never allowed to settle: every track offers something new. Part of this is drawn from the album’s long list of guests, which includes Empress Of, Dear Nora, Syd and many more.

At its best, tracks become an exploratory joy. “I Feel Energy” is an irresistible, early-Jackson inspired hit: new ideas bombarding you through a driving groove. “Break-Thru” also shines, clashing African guitars and processed synths with surprising success. It’s a lottery-style production that makes these songs more than the sum of their parts – they’re worthy of repeated listens to find parts you missed the first five times.

As with the lottery, however, it’s hit and miss. At times it feels like an album led by the head rather than the heart, with inventive production overriding the needs of the song. Everything is staccato, with rhythms and instrumentation constantly chopping and changing. The songwriting barely has room to breathe between sudden appearances of abrasive brass or acoustic guitar picking.

On repeated listens, the ideas creep through but it doesn’t feel like a reward. There’s no denying that it’s a creative album from a true talent, but enjoying the full gamut will be down to personal taste. Definitely worth listening to, and with the variety on show, there’s something for everybody.

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