Review: “Swing Lo Magellan” by Dirty Projectors

By BRADEN LAMMERS

Ten years into their career the Dirty Projectors, have released an album that serves as an intelligible introduction to the band.

The experimental rock group –which in this incarnation consists of David Longstreth (vocals/guitar), Amber Coffman (vocals/guitar), Haley Dekle (vocals), Nat Baldwin (bass), Olga Bell (vocals/keyboards) and Michael Johnson (drums)– released their sixth full-length studio album, “Swing Lo Magellan,” last month.

It is much more accessible to wider audiences than previous releases, but retains much of the jazz-like quality and blending of sounds that has earned the group the “experimental” moniker.

Record rating: 5.9 of 10

And “Swing Lo Magellan” starts off with a blast. The album’s first track “Offspring are Blank” eases from a humming, squeaky lullaby into an explosion of sound. Solid rock chops are quickly put on display, then shut down, back into the ease of the warbling tide just so you don’t confuse the band with something they’re not.

The album seems to drift away from catering to a wider audience as it moves along. Track two, “About to Die,” is a compliment of matched harmonies, with a steadier bass line, but unsteady percussion.

And the album’s title track is a folk song that downplays the swooning roller coaster of Longstreth’s vocals. His lyrics have been long-noted as being somewhere between confusing and self-important. That has not changed for this album.

The listener is offered the unique traits of the band’s style the further it is pushed into the album, where the novelty wears off.

“Maybe That Was It” tries to display a wondering, meandering quality that is lost on me because I was too distracted by the guitar that sounds like they are trying to tune throughout the song.

Like abstract art, I can appreciate what the group is trying to do, but I don’t particularly like it.

However, if you are a fan of experimental rock and have yet to be introduced to the Dirty Projectors, this is your vehicle.

Record rating: 5.9 of 10

Dirty Projectors will be appearing at Headliners Music Hall Tuesday, Aug. 14.

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About hoosierhits
The music blog of the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville & New Albany, Ind.

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