Dirty Projectors are masters of splitting opinion, seeming to irritate almost as many as they captivate. With Björk firmly on the “pro-DPz” side (she worked with members of the band on 2010’s ‘Mount Wittenberg Orca’ album), you know they’re unlikely to produce anything too conventional. Yet for some, their very quirkiness is the main deterrent.
It’s possible that the naysayers may yet be won over by their new album, ‘Swing Low Magellan’, which is probably their most straightforward to date. Are Dirty Projectors cleaning up? Of course not – there are still as many twists and turns on this album as on a suggested Googlemap route through the Welsh valleys. From the almost comically exaggerated humming n’ handclaps intro to “Offspring Are Blank” (which contains, in high contrast, a chorus more akin to something from Guitar Hero) to the squashed chords and table-tapping rhythms of “See What She Seeing”, there’s enough going on underneath the near-constant vocal harmonies to keep even the casual listener interested.
That’s not to say that those who’ve always found Dirty Projectors annoying won’t continue to do so. The singing sometimes descends into caricature, while the occasional zaniness of the backing tracks can lurch away from adding character into the realm of simply distracting. Still, the record is unlikely to disappoint fans and is catchy enough to potentionally attract more radio airtime than ever before. Swing low, sweet Projectors.