After a five-year hiatus, the Dirty Projectors return with their most heartbreaking album yet. There is no mincing words on their self-titled project, it is a self-analytical piece inspired exclusively by the break-up and recovery process. Over nine chapters David Longstreth manages to encapsulate the emotional roller coaster going on in his mind: everything from boiling rage and numbing sadness to acceptance.
Per usual, the Dirty Projectors utilize a multitude of styles to set the mood; patchworking sounds that capture the delicacy of Longstreth’s mental state. At times it is edgy and frantic, without direction or purpose. But just as he’s about to erupt, the clouds break giving hope to what possibly lies ahead. They forgo the idea that all is well, suggesting that the final stage of recovery is still to come — a raw and vulnerable statement.
Some clamor for fame and fortune, others search for something more enriching. The disparity between the two opposing perspectives serve as inspiration, and the frenetic backdrop matches the turbulence that comes with reconciling such forces. Sometimes it works other times it’s too vast a chasm to bridge; the pain of living with the truth, an unbearable feeling for him to swallow: [LISTEN]
Crushing beats simulate the demise of what was already a fragile relationship. There is a sense of overkill but the heart is aching and the raw pain is translating into seething rage. His piercing falsetto floats over the chaos, and the ups and downs has him comparing it to a deadly plane crash. There is violence bubbling beneath, and in the end everyone is hurt. A damning song made of animosity: [LISTEN]
His heart is going through the ringer and pain is all he sees. He’s withdrawing large sums from the memory bank, thinking about the first time they met and how sweet it was. The light horns and soft synths create a feeling of warmth where everything is delicate and fragile. But the good times don’t last for long as the romance quickly fades, giving way to the grim reality of the situation: [LISTEN]
A puzzling array of broken beats cascade down like shattered porcelain. The fragmentation and angular melodies establish a feeling of detachment, and despite what the lyrics are saying the feeling is anything but cordial. He’s bewildered over their inability to make it work and he’s spitting all the familiar platitudes of how simple the formula is; his patience, reaching a breaking point: [LISTEN]
Bubbling percussion and vaporous synth, elevates his mood to higher, more peaceful grounds. Vocals swim in and out of the beat, depositing different memories of his lost love. The romance is thick and reaches every corner of the room, serving as a brief respite from all the painful reminiscing. But just as he’s about to turn a corner, a dark cloud comes drifting over head once again: [LISTEN]
The clouds break, revealing a bright ray of sun. But instead of warmth and well being, it hits the eyes like a rusty dagger. The truth hurts and coming to terms with how foolish they’ve both acted is reminding him of how easily it all could have been avoided. Specifically he’s dissecting the needless war of words, where harsh things are said and no one wins; the sheepish feeling of remorse: [LISTEN]
Lo-fi distortion interrupted by a sudden pang of clarity, simulates the mixed emotions haunting his thoughts. He’s in a free fall and can’t decipher up from down, the motions making him queasy and disorientated. But within that sickening chaos a fresh thought has emerged, forming like a galaxy. Destruction has been the main theme, but from it a new perspective has materialized:
Jovial pop from the heavens creates a feeling of contentment. All the dramatic waxing and waning, and he’s finally turned the corner. He of course didn’t do it alone, commissioning pop heiresses Solange Knowles and D∆WN to help him get over that hump. All the cheap phrases he was using to get himself by has finally given way to more practical ideas, one of which is to not get too heady: [LISTEN]
The glorious organ and thumping percussion announce a milestone moment in the recovery process: acceptance. The feeling is still fresh, and he can’t help but look back at all that has transpired. Understanding the power of forgiveness, he lets compassion seep into his heart as to make it permanent. The tone is melancholy, but the uplifting lyrics turn that sour feeling into a bittersweet hymn: [LISTEN]