Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo, Magellan
by Dinorah Wilson (Journalism), published July 13th 2012
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Dirty Projectors seems to have a preoccupation with genre-mixing, having carved out their signature niche in the musical world by creating a contemporary sound unlike any current musical grouping. Incidentally, the band also has a penchant for experimenting with some pretty impressive instrumentation, and their musical exploration continues on the band’s sixth studio album, Swing Lo Magellan.
Just in time for summer, the album comes across as a burst of optimism on tracks such as “The Socialites” and “About to Die,” highlighting the vocal talents of Dave Longstreth and Amber Coffman, punctuated with strong percussion by the group’s drummer, Michael Johnson. A powerful force of sound, Swing Lo Magellan is also unapologetically confident with the heavier, purposely discordant efforts of multi-instrumentalists Haley Dekle, Nat Baldwin and Olga Bell on tracks like “Maybe That Was It” and “Swing Lo Magellan.”
The band’s distinct use of heavy R&B vocal styling, progressive rock rifts and contemporary string arrangements shape Swing Lo Magellan into a diverse album full of lush and expressive sound, at times bordering on auditory overload.
Unfortunately, fans anticipating a change in sound from Dirty Projectors may have to wait a little longer than expected. With all the impressive skill showcased on Swing Lo Magellan, the album’s opening track “Offspring Are Blank” makes an unremarkable entrance, failing to do much to usher in a substantial amount of the album’s tracks. which also seem interchangeable with the band’s earlier work on Rise Above or Bitte Orca. For better or worse, Swing Lo Magellan is an album that seems keenly focused on refining the band’s high quality sound rather than exploring new musical territory, which could understandably lead longtime Dirty Projectors listeners to feel a banal sense of déjà vu.
Yet, repetition when done in the correct manner doesn’t have to be irritating; in fact, it can be refreshing. Dirty Projectors’ consistency as well as their commitment to producing quality albums for listeners can be heard on Swing Lo Magellan and adds substance to the high degree of musical technicality, creativity, and sheer talent that has become synonymous with band’s brand.
While it may seem that Dirty Projectors have been down this road before, it’s nonetheless a comfortable ride.
Recommended Tracks: Dance for You, Maybe That Was It, About to Die