Published on July 5th, 2012 | by greg0
Dirty Projectors: Swing Lo Magellan:: Review
Dirty Projectors return on their sixth album Swing Lo Magellan which lead songwriter David Longstreth claims is “an album of songs and an album of songwriting.” Without getting too wrapped up in the semantics of the quote, the possibilities could be endless and continually debated as to what exactly Longstreth was getting at. What remains clear is that Swing Lo Magellan is a distinct move away from the proggy direction the band was heading on their previous outing, the experimental Bitte Orca. While Swing Lo Magellan lacks experimental leanings, it more than makes up for that by possibly being one of the densest albums released this year. It’s hard to put a bead on Swing Lo Magellan as the album is overwhelming to listen to in one sitting. After repeated listens, Swing Lo Magellan opened up a little but it never feels like a coherent statement.
When Swing Lo Magellan opens, it’s stylistically all over the place. Swing Lo Magellan is cluttered and confusing much like a house after a move – you know there might be something good in there but it’s covered by debris. Swing Lo Magellan momentarily suffers from an excess of ideas as the hand clapped, gospel influenced opener “Offspring Are Blank” mutates almost as much as the couplings that Longstreth describes. The West African percussion and guitar lines of “About to Die” follow and are disrupted by continual background dialog which feels out of place. Dirty Projectors find their groove on the back to basics of the direct lead single “Gun Has No Trigger” and the Dylan-esque title track “Swing Lo Magellan.”
“Just From Chevron” is no slouch either, and the guitar motif that Longstreth applies to the track holds the listener captive. Other album highlights include the deeply blue “Maybe That Was It” and the album summarizing “Impregnable Question.” Swing Lo Magellan finds itself in somewhat distant territory again as the warped and woozy “See What She Seeing” throws off the momentum and puts the album into a see-saw mode that ends with the crooning “Irresponsible Tune.”
Depending on your proclivities, Swing Lo Magellan might be the best album of the summer or one of the toughest ones to tolerate.