Dirty Projectors' latest offering lands them firmly inside 2017, coming in the wake of, although not directly inspired by, frontman David Longstreth's break-up with former partner and one-time bandmate Amber Coffman. At times, its unflinchingly honest exploration of post-breakup stages and head spaces is difficult listening. But this is also its biggest strength, as Longstreth’s lyrics take the listener through bitterness, anger, melancholy, self-pity and remorse.
Opening track, Keep Your Name, is almost operatic in its narration. Longstreth sings damningly: 'What I want from art is truth, what you want is fame,' a lyric steeped in viciousness. Lashing out during a breakup is common, but there is still bravery in admitting a flaw.
Up In Hudson is a definite highlight, with delicious percussion that climaxes in an electronic flourish – a sound the LP uses in moments throughout. Here we are transported back to the start of the pair’s relationship: the first kiss, the initial passion. Longstreth’s voice is at its most appealing, carrying a complex melody with his famously unusual tone. The electronic sounds on Death Spiral are reminiscent of those found on the latest Wild Beasts album, and exemplify the band's musical evolution.
On Work Together, the use of such a range of different sounds – a snake charmer-style melody, layers of notes and instruments – becomes a bit overloaded, and the overall effect is somewhat abrasive. However, it serves to contrast the following track Little Bubble, heightening the floaty, dreamy effect on the keys, and its stripped back, simpler sound. It's here the melancholy and vulnerability of the album is most powerfully communicated. The intimacy of the relationship is explored, and we are taken back to early mornings in bed, and late nights under the sheets. The chorus, 'We had our own little bubble, for a while,' is loaded with sadness.
Cool Your Heart, co-written by Solange, features D∆WN and is the perfect moment to introduce a new voice to complement Longstreth's falsetto. It's a track that feels more accessible and radio-friendly in comparison to the rest of Dirty Projectors, but as a whole this is a moving and interesting new project, proving that the end of a relationship can lead to something new and exciting.
Listen to: Up In Hudson, Little Bubble