Detonate: Dirty Projectors

Most bands strive to sound different without realising that they’re taking the fun out of music for the rest of us. It’s like that smart-a$s kid in school that always insisted on adding new rules to a simple game of catch.

But music isn’t exactly a game. There are no rules and no one understands this freedom and plays with it better than Dirty Projectors frontman Dave Longstreth. Technically, Dave is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist but above all, he’s a re-imaginator.

Back in 2007, Dirty Projectors put out Rise Above – a re-imagination of the classic hardcore album Damaged by Black Flag. After 15 years of not listening to that album, Dave decided that his band should cover it – based on his memory of what Damaged sounded like. The result was more than just homage to the quintessential punk band. It was a brand new cerebral world created based on Henry Rollins’ pissed-off bad-a$s lyrics with music was so beautiful it could bring you to tears.

So far, in their 8-year career, Dirty Projectors has put out 5 full length albums, a compilation of cassettes and 3 EPs. From the start, critics have been trying to categorize DP as experimental pop, avant grade acapella, or art indie. What we know is that everyone from Talking Heads’ David Byrne, who collaborated with them to Beyonce Knowles’ sister Solange who covered their R&B-ish ‘Stillness is the Move’ are fans.

Dave has name-checked Eagles’ Don Henley and Maria Carey as some of his influences. If you’re still confused, checkout DP’s latest long player Bitte Orca. It’s DP’s best work to date according to Pitchfork who gave the album a 9.2 rating. We couldn’t agree more.

DP is very much a vocal-driven band with 2 of the songs on this album (‘Stillness Is The Move’ and ‘Two Doves’) written specifically for female members Amber Coffman (vocals, guitar) and Angel Deradoorian (vocals, keyboard, guitar, bass). Dave himself sounds, at times, like Prince carrying fluttering falsetto melodies like a human violin.

Amidst weird guitar riffs, rolling drum fills and intricate string arrangements, Dave has written a masterpiece and has finally balanced his Zappa-ish compositions with pop sensibilities. The question now is, are we ready for it? So what are Dirty Projectors? Art pop? Avant grade acapella? Or things you left behind in school? You make the rules, kid.

Clean up and listen to Dirty Projectors at Bitte Orca (Domino Records) is out at all good record stores. Don’t forget to checkout ‘F*cked For Life’ off their latest EP Temecula Sunrise at their myspace.