Swing Lo Magellan
Domino darlings and American indie rockers Dirty Projectors are due to release their highly anticipated sixth album entitled Swing Lo Magellan. The thoughtful band known for their dizzying, innovative tracks have jumped forward again with this album and created more fresh sounds.
Swing Lo Magellan was formed during twelve months of constant writing and recording in a house in Delaware Country, New York. During this time lead singer David Longstreth produced, mixed and wrote a staggering seventy new songs and beats.And was joined by his band; Amber Coffman on vocals/guitar), Nat Baldwin on bass, drummer Brian McOmber and vocalist Haley Dekle. The tracks on the album were chosen from around forty finished demos and the recordings reflect their informal working style with an imperfect, warm feel.
Having explored genres including 80’s hardcore, west African guitar music and techniques involving the human voice Longstreth says of Swing Lo Magellan; “It’s an album of songs, an album of songwriting”. The first track “Offspring Are Blank” opens with humming accompanied by slow claps and a steady beat. Vocal harmonies continue
with oohs and ahhs behind Longstreth’s raw singing style and a sudden outburst of electric guitar. As an opening track it leaves you slightly unsure of what could follow – it’s jagged composition is refreshing to say the least.
“About to Die” is filled with as many juxtapositions – bubbly drum sounds, harp and hand claps and all at a fast tempo. “Gun Has No Trigger” is slightly easier on the ears, steady and with a great hook at the chorus. Longstreth’s wavering vocals are as unsettling as ever. Title track “Swing Lo Magellan” is full of gentle guitar riffs and softer singing; “on the shore people yelling, in their eyes great reflections”.
Dekle takes the first set of vocals in “Just From Chevron” she sings over more hand clap percussion and jumpy guitar. “See What She Seeing” is as experimental with synth noises, strings and knocking noises. By contrast “Impregnable Question” is simple and romantic, a duet with piano; “you’re my love and I want you in my life” repeats to close.
“The Socialites” is a happy tune full of affection sung by Dekle about a woman she adores from afar; “I think she’s the prettiest lady I’ve ever seen, her hair it has meaning and volume”. Closing track “Irresponsible Tune” is a short, down-tempo ditty and one of the sadder tracks on Swing Lo Magellan, Longstreth sings; “In my heart there is music, in my mind is a song, but in my eyes a world crooked, fucked up and alone”. And like
the jumpy, experimental music they produce, the songs by Dirty Projectors are just as up and down. And it’s this human element that makes their music so effective.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.