Just when the Dirty Projectors were on the cusp of being defined as an abstract, intricately arranged band, they released an album that discusses love as openly and as easy as a Sunday morning.
“You get attached to the idea of the continual, elaborate puzzles of communicating,” frontman Dave Longstreth said. “But it really is much more difficult to just say from one person to another, ‘I love you.’”
You wouldn’t be able to tell that unguarded communication has ever proved difficult with Projectors’ latest album, “Swing Lo Magellan.” The record was released last summer and features songs that many have deemed to be the most listenable and vulnerable of the band’s catalog to date.
“Sometimes the things that hold me and carry me and the things that I love that help me aren’t full of obtuse layers,” Longstreth said. “There wasn’t any hiding behind vapors and veils this time.”
The previous fascination with seemingly abstract musical qualities in the Dirty Projectors can be linked to Longstreth’s personal history and attachment to classical music. You can’t study music at Yale without taking just a little time to really investigate the importance of compositions from a hundred years ago.
“Classical music is great because you don’t have these lyrics telling you the song is about this or that,” Longstreth said. “You can really lose yourself in it and whatever you want it to mean.”
Whether it was the simplicity, or just the change of pace when recording “Swing Lo Magellan,” Longstreth said this was one of the most fun recording sessions he’s ever done.
“I probably won’t do things the same again though, because it wouldn’t be as fun,” Longstreth said. “I like new situations with things always changing.”
The band have gone down a variety of musical avenues since the band’s creation in 2002, some of Longstreth’s even involve collaborations with David Byrne of the Talking Heads and Bjork.
“It was really great getting to know both of them,” Longstreth said. “It’s cool to be able to call them friends.”
In 2009 Longstreth had a friend who was working at Housing Works Bookstore in New York, and was helping to organize a charity concert for the Housing Works organization, which is dedicated to providing shelter for the homeless and men, women and children suffering from AIDS.
“This person was friends with both me and Bjork,” Longstreth said. “They had asked us if we might want to work on something together for the concert and we were both just like, ‘Yeah, let’s fucking do it!’”
Such is the case with David Byrne. A friend of the two had suggested they work together on a track for the album, “Dark Was the Night,” a compilation album released by the Red Hot Organization, another non-profit dedicated to fighting the spread of AIDS.
“I think I had written three different songs that were possibilities for the album,” Longstreth said.
The song that was chosen in the end was “Knotty Pine.”
As to be expected, no other collaborations have commenced or been announced. Maybe in five years another marvelous, singular pairing will happen, but only when it starts to feel like something different for Longstreth again.
Until then, Longstreth will be listening to Bob Dylan and Lil Wayne, thinking about how lucky he is to be doing what he’s doing.
“Dylan is just the best songwriter,” Longstreth said. “As much as I like to get obsessed with texture, at the end of the day you come back to the skeleton—what the song really is. And that guy has made a graveyard. He’s just the coolest.”
And then there’s Weezy.
“Lil Wayne is really cool,” Longstreth said. “He was never the same after 2007 though! After those mixtape sessions. They were really great.”
The range of musical tastes and influences is what helps keep Dirty Projectors from being pinned down to one sound or one style. The desire to constantly evolve.
“I really just want the music to make people think for themselves, and I hope the music promotes that and the idea of freedom, and creativeness,” Longstreth said. “I feel really grateful and lucky to be doing this at all. It just started out as this side art project with me sitting on the edge of my bed, trying to write songs.”
Saturday, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.