Dirty Projectors have had a pretty good time of 2012 so far, following the July release of the acclaimed LP Swing Lo Magellan. If that wasn’t enough new material, the Brooklyn band has put out the About To Die EP, featuring three new songs.
The title track is the obvious standout, becoming the de facto calling card of Swing Lo Magellan. “About To Die” sounds like the band—or at least main man David Longstreth’s current vision of it—defining itself. The attention to detail that made Dirty Projectors some of Brooklyn’s most prominent mascots is all there. The elements of the title track are stacked Jenga-like, forming a whole that’s fully in balance. A crisply rattling rhythm carries the track, and Longstreth’s lyrics are typically impenetrable. “Look there the goblins dressed up like a wound,” he sings. “Mutants are vagrant and hateful.” Interpret at will.
“While You’re Here” clearly would have been an outlier on Swing Lo Magellan, as it features Longstreth’s vocals arching over a soothing string section. This is about as laid-back as Dirty Projectors get, given the undercurrent of anxiety that seems necessary to deliver productions that are so sharply constructed.
Though the production value is still high, the songs found here are less assertive than the tracks that were considered album material. “Simple Request” takes on a faintly nostalgic air in pushing Longstreth’s vocals further down in the mix, and the female vocal harmonies that are a characteristic part of the current form of Dirty Projectors are reduced to a faint cooing in “Here Till I’m Not.” Singer/guitarist Amber Coffman notably has less to do on these tracks; it’s a different dynamic.
Given how hard-working Longstreth and company are, the songs on About To Die deserve their day in the sun. It’s a side to the band that might not have otherwise been seen.