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Album review: Dirty Projectors miss their muse on their eponymous new record

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Annie Zaleski

Three stars

Dirty Projectors Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors crafts elaborate indie rock informed by chamber music-based pastiches and digital demolitions. The Brooklyn group’s new self-titled effort is also about a breakdown: leader David Longstreth’s split with former bandmate Amber Coffman. Accordingly, the record’s lyrics are full of regret, blame, sorrow, vindictiveness, nostalgic fondness and, finally, acceptance.

The turmoil gets messy. On ’80s R&B slow jam homage “Little Bubble,” Longstreth croons mournfully, “We had our own little bubble for a while,” but he ends the last verse by saying, “I want to be dead.” Although the music feels ambitious—“Keep Your Name” features an array of manipulated voices, and the dizzying “Death Spiral” contains quick-cut piano trills—the record feels a bit thin, with Coffman’s counterpoint vocals sorely missed. It’s most evident on spongy reggae-pop trifle “Cool Your Heart,” co-written by Solange and featuring ex-Danity Kane member D∆WN. Her vocals overlap with Longstreth’s to add the kind of intellectual and sonic complexity Dirty Projectors doesn’t deliver consistently enough.

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