Instrumentation would be one angle with which to approach this new Dirty Projectors album… in this department, David Longstreth and company (and he is a business, man, owning to more than 20 “Past Members” on Wikipedia) come at you with a couple of key adornments like this intensely funky electric guitar effect on “Break-Thru” and then this tuba flanking the beginning of “Blue Bird.” Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold is featured on the still innocuous and only two-minute-spanning “You’re the One” and I think I got a waft of his acoustic guitar there. “Zombie Conqueror” is another favorite, getting its toes wet with some heavy metal guitar sound and thick snare to match only to, of course, true to DP’s form, revel back in that celestial acoustic guitar we found in “Useful Chamber” and elsewhere on Bitte Orca (I must confess a relative ignorance of every other Dirty Projectors album since that one since I really couldn’t stand any of them).
Basically all of the songs on Lamp Lit Prose are good, particularly tracks two through six. Within this portion which plays like a triumphant return to form for all lovers of 2009’s Bitte Orca, “That’s a Lifestyle” might be the centerpiece with its future-summoning lyrics and haphazard redefinition of what a “lifestyle” is at all but “I Feel Energy” plays as an awesomely rhythmic counterpoint, as immediate and fresh as this album’s title itself and pounding forth with some decisive but lithe art rock calling to mind St. Vincent when she’s at her best and sassiest.
The weak minds out there might peg Lamp Lit Prose as a love album, since in “I Found it in U” (which mind you stylistically is scurrilous, rambunctious and reckless, the exact opposite of the affect found in an actual romantic affair like Beach Boys’ “Don’t Talk” or whatever) features the line “I’m in love for the first time” and then another song is about “You’re a break-thru.” Nothing could be further truth and in fact these are two relatively weak tracks: the centerpiece is undoubtedly “That’s a Lifestyle,” which takes on the entirety of humanity’s plight, in true David Longstreth (and true New York, for that matter, as in “Cannibal Resource,” the malady of the overly informed and the overly scrutinized) form. The other especially strong number, “I Feel Energy,” is likewise ill fitted for a fling in which you’re numb to the outside world. In “That’s a Lifestyle,” Longstreth presents as wandering forth from his home “kinda drunk and kinda high”, but not before taking us through a quick kaleidoscope of his white liberal guilt: “Who will stop wasting the lives of the brave” (he’s presumably talking about the American Indians here and martyrs and rebels in general); “Who will stop wasting the forests and seas / We know what will survive”… so it’s this juxtaposition of this burdened mind state, which in light of this recent craze of “emotional intelligence” doesn’t even seem advisable at all, with this thereafter activity of cognitive evasiveness but physical drawnness, that renders this new “lifestyle” which we see as every bit mental as it is physical. It is then, with joy, through this music, that we celebrate what often seems like our powerlessness, and it’s yours to own too proportional to your ability to put down your insecurities and ambitions and really enjoy this great, immediately permanent music.