Reviewed by Logan Steenbergen
Dirty Projectors began as a solo project of guitarist David Longstreth, a brooklyn based indie-rocker who knows a thing or two about heartbreak. In late of 2013, Longstreth’s then girlfriend, Amber Coffman, broke up with him, and provided him with the inspiration for his seventh studio album, and the first he has put out in over five years, but it’s not like he hasn’t been busy. Longstreth has worked along such artists as Rihanna and Kanye West, all while co-writing with Solange. Over the years, he has written the songs that make up his newest album, Dirty Projectors. The melodic and broken sound that the self-titled album provides dives deep into the emptiness of heart break, and takes the listener along for an emotional ride. In addition, the storytelling allows for a personal touch, something that is difficult to find in today’s releases.
The first track on the album is a droning ballad that serves as an ode to the ruins of his past loves. “Keep your Name” is just as lonely as the title suggests. The ambient background, except for the occasional pounding of drums, leads to listener to feel the loss he believes he has experienced. The lyrics “I wanted what you wanted/but it never felt the same,” as well as others, explain the feeling of being completely alone, even when together, the idea of rotating in different circles. And even though he believes that the two of them were “soul and partner,” they didn’t work together, and the end of it was imminent, a theme that the track definitely oozes. The soft and muted lyrics give the idea of hesitancy and timidness that he feels when expressing his emotions about this specific subject.
That timidness carries over to the fifth track on the record “Little Bubble”. Even though the instrumental changes a little, the general message of the song is the same. The essence of drowning in loneliness consumes this song. The instrumental is heavy and painful, there’s nothing that you can do with the weight that it leaves on your chest. The song itself is about longing for death and reliving the pain that the ending of the relationships brought him, as something that he can’t escape, and the impermanence of it all. It provides a transcendental conception of day to day life, blending mundane feelings with undertones of recovery that can only be achieved when acknowledging your losses.
“Cool Your Heart” is the eighth track on the record and the mood has changed completely, as this song is no longer wallowing in the sorrows of heartbreak. The erratic drums and the upbeat poppy electronic sounds make that song sound more like a tropical vacation than a break-up song. Another interesting this song is that for the first verse sounds more like a diss track as well. He sings “how do you feel/ is it loneliness” almost poking fun at the other, as if to say that he has moved on and they’re the only one plagued with loneliness. But as the song continues it makes out as more of a track of being stuck in the past and pretending like nothing ever happened. In the chorus, he talks about how he wishes that they were still together, and it’s almost as if the song serves the purpose of providing the illusion that everything is okay and he’s moved on, and the chorus is the thoughts stuck inside, masked by an upbeat personality.
In general, the album is an agonizing analysis of heartbreak and pain, in which Longstreth gets deeply personal with the certain aspects of his life that have been affected. The tracks are all over the place in the context of rhythm and instruments, but one could argue that it’s an artful demonstration of what he feels. And, in essence, that’s what music should be, a rhythmic description of how you feel.