Review: Dirty Projectors - 'Lamp Lit Prose'

By the end of Lamp Lit Prose, one thing is clear: David Longstreth has a keen sense of irony because nothing about this album is prosaic. Longstreth claims that he’s more concerned with words’ vowel sounds than lyrical content. So, to get the most out of Lamp Lit Prose, you need to get your paws on the actual words that go with Longstreth’s trademark phonetic poetry. The lyrics do snipe at the offender in chief, as heard on the latest single from Prose, “That’s a Lifestyle.” Longstreth calls out the glib elite who will do anything for a Senator’s favor, a favor that might keep guns near schools and on campuses, as well as lifestyle brands and their targets.

Musically, the signature uncanny weirdness that Longstreth magically conjures goes from end to end: tethered male and female vocalized samples as well as meter changes start 50 seconds into the record. Layered songs with dramatic breaks, High Life guitars and violin scratching (“I Feel Energy (feat. Amber Mark)”) all mean that the musicians learning these parts were part of a focused high yield recording experience. It makes perfect sense that Rostam (Vampire Weekend), no stranger to the more is more approach to indie rock, stopped by to provide a vocal track for the three-part vocal harmony on the record’s second to last track.

Prose was fun to blast in my kitchen while my roommates and I worked individually on projects. You can do that, take some CBD rips and let it roll out. Personally, I would jam “I Feel Energy” (4) “Zombie Conqueror” (5) to get me going. “Break-Thru” (2) is the standout crush track on an album full of odes to bad-sounding bitches who have (apparently) dropped a pin that went right thru Longstreth’s flannel and into his soul.

The second track is a completely posi-nerdy ode to a certain woman who embodies the title of second track “Break-Thru” and is apparently “Middle-Earth-high-brow.” “Zombie Conqueror,” a mid-tempo hardcore punk song rocked the hardest and was as punctuated by pentatonic hippie strumming and harmonies from the 6-person ensemble. Don’t forget to listen through to the last track, “(I Wanna) Feel it All,” featuring Katy Davidson of Dear Nora when you’re lazing around lovesick this summer. (“I feel energy,” notes Longstreth on the fourth track, “could this be just a tender dream?”)

Longstreth’s philosophy requires devoted listening and a willingness to be converted. It’s a confusing course, because Dirty Projectors, like so much indie rock to come out of New York City in the 2000s, have become a singular sonic calling card that seems registered to a very specific ecstatic or beatific affect. But if you aren’t ready to smoke some weed for just this one double-tracked funk guitar solo, then what are you doing with your life?


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