Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
Bitte Orca moved Dirty Projectors some way towards accessibility, its wild stylistic fusions and disorienting rhythms always undercut by a strong melodic sensibility that suggested that if the band kept their fussy quirks in check, they could make a credible attempt at the charts. The 2012 follow-up, Swing Lo Magellan, does nothing to erase that suspicion. Possibly their most immediate record to date, it’s undoubtedly their warmest, sacrificing some of their trademark unpredictability for emotional directness. This isn’t to say that there aren’t still moments that surprise. Indeed, “Offspring Are Blank” starts things off unexpectedly, offsetting its spooky verses with crunching choruses; “Maybe That Was It” riffs on the decaying psych-folk of Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House; “Gun Has No Trigger” features a powerful vocal from Dave Longstreth on a hook that comes out of nowhere, making it a subtly brilliant single. But this album will be remembered for its smaller, song-based moments. The Projectors have never before approached anything as lovely as the disarmingly sweet title track or the yearning piano ballad “Impregnable Question,” and even when darkness bubbles beneath the surface, such as on “Just From Chevron” or the woozy closer “Irresponsible Tune,” the album’s unfailingly melodic core keeps things light on their feet. In keeping with Swing Lo‘s intimate vibe, Amber Coffman provides a spiritual successor to “Stillness Is The Move” with another R&B-ish solo turn on “The Socialites,” while the studio chatter and vocal outtakes left in “Unto Caesar” perfectly sum up this album’s endearing, down-to-earth appeal. Dirty Projectors are always in a state of flux—their music, their lyrical focus, their lineup (Angel Deradoorian is nowhere to be found here)—so to create an album as stable, strong and relatively straightforward as this is quite the feat. It may not be as ambitious as earlier Projector records, but Swing Lo Magellan may be the one that connects with the most people.