Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)

A release designed to please big fans and baffle outsiders

Sep 5, 2012 at 12:00 am
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)

For a band once heralded as indie saviors, David Longstreth's proggy collective, Dirty Projectors, plays it safe here, hunkering down on established fixations designed to please big fans and baffle outsiders. That's a pity, because there are moments on Swing Lo Magellan sublime enough to appeal to a broader contingent than they've ever reached. Sixties folk rock buffs will fawn over "About to Die" (sparse, unpredictably winding Revolver melody) and "Dance for You" (full of rich romance), but Longstreth and company part with their influences on their simultaneous desire (to borrow a phrase from Matt Groening) to endear and to annoy.

So while there may be wistful traces of Jefferson Airplane on "Gun Has No Trigger," beautiful Dylanisms on the title cut, and stirring gospel-tinged vocals on opener, "Offspring Are Blank," the pleasures are constantly offset by difficulty, calling back to Big Star's famously frayed Sister Lovers. The last half is repetitive, the dance-averting intellectualism tiresome, and the polyrhythms only sporadically fuse with the psychedelia. Yet it's not impossible to imagine that this idiosyncratic performance will mean the world to many.