Scarcely a year after the release of the self-titled Dirty Projectors LP, Dave Longstreth’s band returned with a new album that is, in pretty much every way, the YANG to the yin of that record. Coming in at 10 songs, 37 minutes, LAMP LIT PROSE (2018) is The Straight Story to the s/t’s Blue Velvet; Punch-Drunk Love to the s/t’s Magnolia. Lamp Lit Prose, the eighth Dirty Projectors LP, is an album of light and lightness, tenderness and care, melody and fascination and beauty.
The album cover speaks volumes: unbleached linen, an explosion of flowers, the absence of gravity — happy chaos shot in lysergic detail. This version of the classic red-and-blue Dirty Projectors logo features two custom-made sculptural glass objects bending toward each other in taoist harmony — a new configuration that suggests affirming, restorative balance.
Lamp Lit Prose is a REBIRTH: an album of new hopes, new ideas & new collaborators. Song titles read like breathless dispatch from a place of beginnings and elemental forces: ‘I Feel Energy’, ‘Break-Thru’, ‘Lifestyle’, ‘Right Now’, ‘Feel It All.’ Should it be paradoxical that it’s also a return to form? Lamp Lit Prose feels like a RECOMMITMENT to the sonics & ideals of Dirty Projectors albums past, anthologizing the band’s trademarks and wrapping them within Dave’s ever-growing production chops and arrangement sense.
On ‘Right Now’, the album’s scene-setting opener, Dave sings, “there was silence in my heart, but now I’m striking up the band.” It’s true: together with the announcement of a new live band and the first proper tour dates in five years, this album feels like the return of a dear friend — albeit one who always surprised and pushed the sonic envelope. GUITAR has returned to the Projectors’ world, and so has VOCAL HARMONY. These are some of the most intricate & gorgeous vocal arrangements in the band’s catalog — from amazing GUEST ARTISTS including Syd, Amber Mark, Empress Of, Haim (background vox), Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, Rostam, and Dear Nora. In its unity of taut songwriting, electric emotion and great performance, Lamp Lit Prose stands as Dirty Projectors’ most extroverted and immediately accessible record in quite some time.
In Dirty Projectors’ universe, there are the ‘concept’ records — The Getty Address, Rise Above, Mt Wittenberg Orca, Dirty Projectors [s/t] — and the ‘songs’ records: Bitte Orca, Swing Lo Magellan, The Glad Fact. Lamp Lit Prose is the latter — a stylistically diverse collection of absolute CHUNES — unified around a core of optimism, bonhomie and new love. This is what wild, new, risk-taking music sounds like, from an artist who puts his lyric and his lifeline on the line.