There's always been a delightful irreverence about the Dirty Projectors, right back when it was just Dave Longstreth on his lonesome fooling around with 20th century classical music and blending incongruous production values. His unique approach to music making have helped turn DP into one of the most distinctive bands in the world and on Swing Lo Magellan they've made their first legitimate pop record. "Gun Has No Trigger" the albums lead single, features the Projectors trademark off kilter vocal harmonies, subtle instrumentation and Longstreths mangled Thom Yorke-esque falsetto. These elements are sequenced in such a way on "GHNT" though, that as a listener you feel invited to join in the reverie instead of being alienated by it. Lines like "You'd see the oceans swell, And the mountains shook, You'd see a million colors, If you really looked" are incredibly evocative in an elucidated brechtian type of way.
The sparse clicks, empty spaced singing and muted percussion of opener "Offspring Are Blank" lure you into a false sense of security before the chorus of explosive arena rock blows the cobwebs right out your complacent ears. Dirty Projectors mischevious moment of cacophanous euphoria in this song demonstrates how cleverly they can mix abrasiveness and accessability without it feeling disjointed or incongruous in any way. Long time DP fans may miss the absent Angel Deradoorian but should feel consoled with Amber coffman's superlative contributions, she turns in a beautiful vocal performance and some insightful lyricism on "The Socialites", her sweet butter wouldn't melt style of singing in this song cleverly disguises her razor sharp diatribe to judgemental elitists.
On the title track Longstreth gets his dylan on, by rambling out a modern day folk tune which their short film Hi Custodian perfectly captures the spirit of. "Dance For You" whilst being one of my personal favourites also serves to describe the irrepressable brilliance of Swing Lo Magellan by condensing everything that makes this album so great into one song. Inventive arrangements, catchy guitar riffs, handclapped rhythms and pensively playful lyrics all flow melifluously here and it's a marvel to behold. Whether this album has managed to replace Bitte Orca as the bands crowning achievement seems like an unnecessary thing to contemplate right now as i'm still having far too much fun getting to know this gem to begin making such comparisons. One thing i will say though is that after half a dozen listens swing Lo just keeps getting better and better so at the very least it's a real possibility.