Brooklyn, NY is home to one of the coolest and subtly edgy groups I have ever known. Dirty Projectors have been releasing music since 2002 and I have to say, over 15 years later, they still have the coolness, that edge, and that uniquely personal creativity that only the city that never sleeps can instill in someone. David Longstreth, the band’s frontman, has always had one foot dipped into that creativity pool, which is what made prior Dirty Projectors records what they were. Now, in 2018, Longstreth has jumped right in — dove right in, if I may. The level of style brought to Lamp Lit Prose seems to set it apart from many of their other albums, and it has separated them even more from the stereotypical lo-fi, experimental, indie rock scene.
Lamp Lit Prose released on July 13 is an indie sounding album with evident traces of maturity and, as always, a distinct experimental vibe. The rock group continues to push boundaries with this record. The songwriting has grown exponentially, if that is even possible, touching upon topics of optimism and apocalypse. Interesting, right? But very on target for this new record.
Longstreth, a hopeless romantic for sure, has continuously brought that side of him to the table. That is expected. What was not expected this time around was the approach he took in portraying his emotional self. Their self-titled album that was released last year was a melancholy track-by-track record that would soon become one of their least favored, as a dark breakup album didn’t seem to mesh with the sound they were heading toward. Granted, that album was the first following Amber Coffman’s departure, but it still wasn’t as beloved as Prose will soon be. The album title alone ties in the strength of the lyrics, hinting that the songwriting was, well, prose poems and stories that were written simply and elegantly by lamp light. Sure, it might not have actually been done that way, but the essence of the album is in that visual and concept. It’s raw, putting a perspective on how the album was created and where it was headed towards. On the introductory track, “Right Now”, which features Syd, there is a twinkling 12-string guitar, outstanding harmonies within the chorus, and hopeful lyrics such as, “I don’t know how I’m going to be a better man/I don’t know how I’m going to reach the Promised Land/I don’t know how I’m going to get you to take my hand/But I’m going to try and I know when.”
That re-established up-tempo feeling and sound is starting this era of Dirty Projectors off nicely. My favorite song on the album by far is “You’re the One”; a ballad that bares no regrets and showcases soulful, open hearted romance. The melodies alone hold that perfect sense of hand-holding and sunset walks. Longstreth sings of choosing this person, wanting to love and laugh with them forever, because they are the one. Simple guitar strumming is the base of this song, the texture of it light and airy, not needing to be clutter by production or unnecessary instrumentations.
Longstreth knew what he was going for with this album; like I said, he dove right into the creativity pool and came out with a ten track record that is light years from their last. He wrote every song on the album except for one…that he co-wrote. The whole album was recorded at his Los Angeles studio and he produced it himself. Talk about going for the gold! Not a single song feels out of place and each one gives way to the passionate imagery only such personal lyrics can create. With an idea in mind, stories to tell, and love to profess David Longstreth hit the nail on the head with Lamp Lit Prose.