In July, Dirty Projectors released their sophomore album Lamp Lit Prose. After really enjoying their debut, this was an album that I was very excited for. Its not only lived up to my expectations, it greatly exceeded them. Lamp Lit Prose is full of creative and tight instrumentals in addition to relatable and catchy lyrics.
Dirty Projectors, led by front man David Longstreth, have returned with an album that greatly improved over its predecessor. In Lamp Lit Prose, the spacey instrumentals from their debut are replaced by layered acoustic riffs. Where autotune and vocal distortion was present. Longstreth uses his naturally odd voice to convey his ideas.
The album opens with a jangly acoustic riff and Longsteth’s almost cartoonish voice. The acoustic guitar is quickly joined by other guitars, trumpets, and an electric drum kick. These instruments remain constant and continue to provide melodies for the rest of the album. As the album continues, these same themes presented in track one continues to appear. Quirky vocals constantly bring optimism to relationships with others, relationships with ourselves, and hope in time of despair. These elements all shine in the slower tracks of this album. For example, in “Blue Bird,” a more mellow melody is played by an electric piano while the vocals simply sing about love on a spring day. On “You’re The One,” a deeper vocal melody is backed by a simpler instrumental which allows the lyrical beauty to shine. These slower tracks continue to give perspective among the other fast and occasionally odd tracks.
These odd instrumentals and quirky lyrics are supplemented by features throughout the album. In the opening track “Right Now,” Syd provides backing vocals in the bridge to compliment Longstreth. In “Zombie Conqueror,” Empress Of again provides backing vocals in the bridge. The most prominent features come in one of my personal favorite tracks, “You’re The One.” Robin Pecknold from the band Fleet Foxes along with Rostom from Vampire Weekend appear in this track. The trio of voices provide much more tenor than previously seen in this song to create a ballad much different than what is seen on other tracks in this album.
This album sounds continuously unique while simultaneously wearing its inspirations on its sleeve. Although sonically this album is incredibly unique and a breath of fresh air, the inspirations behind it are incredibly apparent. The acoustic riffs are reminiscent of Jack Johnson, the drum beats are very similar to what would be found in house music, and the slower tracks contain melodies seen in jazz and soul. Not only this, but on the tracks “I Found it in You” and “You’re the One,” there are direct lyrical allusions to Beatles songs “Don’t Let Me Down” and “In My Life.”
Lamp Lit Prose is a wonderful album from Dirty Projectors. Creative instrumentalization coupled with poetic lyrics and unique vocals create an album that is a pleasure to listen to. This album quickly made its way onto my list of favorite albums from this year and I’m sure that it is there to stay.
Favorites: “Break Through” “Zombie Conqueror” “You’re The One”
By Isaac Yates