Unlike the lyrical subject of ‘The Offspring Are Blank’, the song’s devastating bass line fires live ammunition right into the melody’s heart. Between trembling volleys of lower-register distortion, Dirty Projectors unravel a narrative in fragile croons and foreboding vocal harmony. Rage and beauty marry in the chorus. It’s hard for a rock record to start off on a better foot.
Dirty Projectors have a well-deserved reputation for experimentation. However, this may be the first album that finds the Brooklyn art-poppers so intently experimenting with accessibility. Genres merge as unpredictably as ever, but for the first time, the juxtaposition isn’t the least bit jarring. While previous efforts challenged one’s perception of rock ‘n’ roll, this collection expertly satisfies a thirst for new sounds without any requisite period of adjustment.
The simplicity of ‘Gun Has No Trigger’ is precisely what is so unmistakably enchanting about it. While David Longstreth paints lyrical imagery of the ocean, Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle turn chants into waves. This image built from voices calmly explores a frame made from the sturdy rhythm section. Like any of the most well-loved fairy tales, there’s something soothing about the minimalism of this tale and it doesn’t corrode after repeated listens. Meanwhile, the title track is one of the sweetest, most straightforward songs in the band’s repertoire.
This theme is picked up over and over again on this album, as storytelling dominates over conceptualizing and vocal weaving pulls focus rather than guitar virtuosity. That’s not to say that Swing Lo Magellan is without instrumental flair. ‘Dance For You’, for example, is beautifully interrupted by orchestral fills and a guitar solo so perfectly fractured by stereo it resembles a duet.
Swing Lo Magellan should please longtime fans, but it should be equally satisfying to listeners who may be new to the band.