Our No.1 Record of the Year for 2018 is 'Lamp Lit Prose', the eight studio album from the relentlessly imaginative Dirty Projectors.
They are a band we adore. We have previously had 2009’s Bitte Orca and 2012’s Swing Lo Magellan right at the very top of our end of year lists, and last year’s sombre self-titled album was number 19 in the 2017 chart. Flash forward to July this year, and David Longstreth has extended Dirty Projectors out to a full band again for a euphoric and irrepressibly sunny follow-up.
'Lamp Lit Prose' is the very antithesis of the self-titled album that preceded it, that same glistening pop production but it’s an album full of love-drunk hope. The songs are some of the shiniest and airiest Longstreth has written to date, catchy, vibrant and snappy pop songs that never outstay their welcome. The new-look band - Mike Daniel Johnson, Maia Friedman, Felicia Douglass, Kristin Slipp and longtime bass guitarist Nat Baldwin - are joined by an impressive roll call of guest contributors.
Syd’s (The Internet) vocal coolly anchors Right Now, the Haim sisters sound incredible on That's a Lifestyle with a throwback to the rich harmonies of Bitte Orca, Amber Mark is positively delicious in flashes - one of the album’s finest moments as her commanding purr threatens to steal the show - on 'I Feel Energy', Empress Of’s appearance on the riff-heavy 'Zombie Conqueror' has a brilliantly hypnotic refrain and Robin Pecknold (of Fleet Foxes) and Rostam (formally of Vampire Weekend) gather around for really quite lovely open-heart harmonies on the penultimate 'You’re the One'.
Even Björk, a previous collaborator on the amazing Mount Wittenberg Orca mini-album, makes her mark on 'Lamp Lit Prose'; 'I Feel Energy' features the sound of a Japanese cricket she recorded and passed to Longstreth who became fascinated with its rhythmic click. All of the talents - and animals - are beautifully borrowed, but even in their most brilliant moments they never detract from the bigger picture that Longstreth's arrangements paint. There are some lush moments of brass across the album, euphoric swells and an almost cavalry-like strut. All of the timbres are maximal, it is an album of knotted cleverness and unbridled creative energy.
Whereas last year’s self-titled album was a catharsis and a necessity to release, 'Lamp Lit Prose' feels like a set of songs that have exploded out of Longstreth in a very different way, it feels very much like an album that he wanted to make rather than one he had to. It’s passionate and beguiling, whilst still having the frenetic changes in direction that are so synonymous with Dirty Projectors as each song organically changes. Utterly thrilling throughout - a brilliant writer, a brilliant band and a brilliant album.
1. Right Now (feat. Syd)
3. That’s A Lifestyle
4. I Feel Energy (feat. Amber Mark)
5. Zombie Conqueror (feat. Empress Of)
6. Blue Bird
7. I Found It In U
8. What Is The Time
9. You’re The One (feat. Robin Pecknold & Rostam)
10. (I Wanna) Feel It All (feat. Dear Nora)
+ Both vinyl formats are pressed on Heavyweight 180g vinyl, in white poly-lined inner sleeve, gatefold outer sleeve. Includes 16-page 6"x11" libretto booklet and a download card.
+ Regular edition is Black.
+ Indie edition is ‘Blue side/Red side’ coloured vinyl.
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