In a sentence:
Hobbled by a very short run-time, Dirty Projectors’ latest EP ‘Windows Open’ feels slightly unsatisfying and insubstantial as we wait for a new album.
Windows Open, the newest EP by David Longstreth-led outfit Dirty Projectors, arrives at a trying time for humanity. Yet you wouldn’t be able to tell by the general disposition of the barely 10-minute-long release. Windows Open follows the footpath laid down by its 2018 album predecessor, Lamp Lit Prose. If melancholic in its aims, it’s effectively twee, albeit experimentally so, if the term still holds any meaning in 2020. Syncopated acoustic strumming and vocal harmonies all around.
This time around, the band’s guitarist Maia Friedman takes
the lead vocal spot throughout the entirety of the EP. Dirty Projectors usually
sees female vocalists take the lead (2017’s Dirty
Projectors was an outlier in that regard… and every other regard as
well). Friedman is clearly a capable singer, and her voice and timbre
complement the typically unusual arrangements of the songs well, grounding them
firmly into the territory of what can be called a “song structure”. Her vocal
line on ‘Overlord’,
in particular, lends the song a traditional catchiness that you’d be
hard-pressed to find throughout most of the band’s discography.
READ MORE: Dirty
Projectors // ‘Bitte Orca’ at 10 years old
The lyrics, co-written by Longstreth and Friedman, seem to
appeal to memory and a vague sense of melancholy, when they are decipherable. Unlike
the last couple of releases by the band – especially 2017’s heart-wrenching
self-titled effort, which could only be described as a sadder thematic sequel
and ode to Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak – the
EP is, lyrically, difficult to attach to Longstreth’s or the project’s personal
narrative. Perhaps that comes from having a duo of writers, yet, in the current
socio-cultural climate, Blake-like poetic lines that seem devoid of personal or
grander significance seem to fall flatter than usual.
Some songs leave more of an impact than others, of course.
‘Overlord’, as mentioned before, at the very least, is memorable in its
arrangement and repetition. Meanwhile ‘Search For Life’ is
pleasing and calming in that way that only acoustic folk songs can really be,
and has interesting string accompaniment to boost it up. At its proudest
moments, it seems to encroach on Sufjan Stevens territory in terms of emotional
In its entirety, however, the EP feels like little more than
a side-venture while we wait on a true follow up. A totally passable listening
experience, the difficulty is minimised by its short run-time as well. It’s
Dirty Projectors-esque in sound, perhaps, but not so much in emotional grip.
Yet, if you needed your experimental folky fix in this trying time, it’s here. (5/10) (Ellie Wolf)
Listen to Windows Open EP by Dirty Projectors here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: David Longstreth, Dirty Projectors, Domino, Ellie Wolf, EP, Maia Friedman, review, Windows Open
Currently studying Mathematics and Music at Leeds University. Generally a fan of all things musical, cultural, and pretentious. Values aesthetic way too much.
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