Published Jul 11, 2018Dirty Projectors mastermind David Longstreth has cautioned against comparing last year's self-titled record to his latest. Yet, by his own admission, Lamp Lit Prose is in many ways a continuation of the same emotional journey; where Dirty Projectors documented heartbreak and reconciliation following his split with former bandmate Amber Coffman, Lamp Lit Prose chronicles Longstreth rediscovering the joys of living.
Still, that's where the comparisons end, as Longstreth circles his musical wagons and doubles down on all the myriad sounds he's experimented with over the course of Dirty Projectors' lifespan: beat-making, voice manipulation, orchestral arrangements, R&B groove and West African guitar riffs all appear here, often in the same song. Those guitar riffs, mostly absent from Dirty Projectors, go a long way to communicating that joy, as Longstreth returns to the more obtuse lyrics that have typified his work. The plain-spoken documentation of his times with Coffman have given way to shout-outs to Fellini, Archimedes and Julian Casablancas. The guitar lines also contain some of the stickiest pop hooks of the band's career.
He enlisted a number of friends and artists he admires to help bring his vision to life — the Internet's Syd, rising R&B star Amber Mark, Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold and long-time friend Katy Davidson from Dear Nora all make appearances. Yet, Longstreth rarely gives his collaborators room to make their own mark. Rather, their contributions come across more as bullhorns for his ideas. This is certainly nothing new — Longstreth has a long list of artists who've contributed their skills to his work. But substituting his collaborator's unique artistic voices for his own seems like something of a wasted opportunity.
Nevertheless, the results are an album that synthesizes the Dirty Projectors sound, while continuing to explore the nooks and crannies of the rather large and unorthodox creative box he's made for himself. Where Longstreth once isolated each of his artistic tendencies, he now seems more willing to let them occupy the same space, rubbing up against one another to create something altogether unique and truly joyous. (Domino)