Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
Dave Longstreth is essentially the white Kanye West. As the front-man of Dirty Projectors, he’s made a career crafting music with the vision of a true sonic pioneer who considers auto-tune an instrument of the finest capacity, paired with tunes that range from rock to soul to who knows what in their influence, and who arranges strings for Joanna Newsom– while also keeping his name in the know by doing mainstream collaborations with A-listers. In the past two years he’s worked with West himself alongside Rihanna and Paul McCartney, and most recently he’s collaborated with Solange on last year’s acclaimed A Seat at the Table. His latest album with Dirty Projectors is actually without Dirty Projectors – the sweet sounding voice of Amber Coffman is no longer present due to her breakup with Longstreth, and he takes the reins completely on this highly revealing and personal, self-titled album.
Dirty Projectors is essentially a solo record similar to the project’s 2003 debut The Glad Fact, where Longstreth channels his pain into a rumination of lost love and the meaning of heartbreak. He wastes no time getting to the point, both lyrically and sonically, on the album opener “Keep Your Name”. “I don’t know why you abandoned me/You were my soul and my partner/What we imagined and what we became/We’ll keep ’em separate and you keep your name”, sings the heavily manipulated voice of Longstreth, indicating that this is going to be the loneliness Dirty Projectors album you’ve ever heard. It suggests that both he can Coffman are moving on, as she is keeping her maiden name while he continues under their band’s moniker.
Throughout the album, Longstreth uses his classic wordplay to describe his loss love as a plane crash (“Death Spiral”), a loss of closeness (“Little Bubble”), and losing a contest (“Winner Take Nothing”), but the album is as autobiographical as it is descriptive.” Now I’m listening to Kanye on the Taconic Parkway, riding fast/And you’re out in Echo Park, blasting 2Pac, drinking a fifth for my ass/I’m just up in Hudson bored and destructive knowing that nothing lasts”, laments Longstreth on the single “Up in Hudson”. It combines his love of music and his love of Amber into one beautiful verse. This album basically is Longstreth’s 808’s & Heartbreak.
There are some more uplifting moments on the record, though, at least from a musical perspective: “Ascent Through Clouds” is one of Dirty Projector’s most sonically interesting tracks to date. Starting with a classical, misty string section, the sound quickly morphs into a dance floor beat that perfectly underscores lyrics of self-redemption after romantic pain. Another immediate standout is “Cool Your Heart”, a co-write with Solange that features the voice of up-and-coming R&B songstress Dawn Richard on the chorus. If it weren’t for Longstreth’s disorientating syncopated drum loops and reggae rhythms, this tune would fit right into the top 40. All in all, Dirty Projectors is an obtusely emotional record that allows Longstreth to use his unique sound to venture into lyrical territory that, for all of is, is less unique.