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Why 'Swing Lo Magellan' is my favorite record of 2012

Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan

A Fake Walls Best Albums of 2012 list may have brought a few under-appreciated LPs a little well-deserved publicity, but would have mostly been redundant. On top of that, like every year, only a handful of new full-lengths really resonated with me.

Considering that and the fact most FW regulars probably would not have the interest or attention span to read what I thought about my top 25 or so albums of this year, I'd like to kindly suggest you give Swing Lo Magellan another listen whether you missed it, weren't won over on first listen or emphatically agree with me. Here's a few reasons:

Lyrics in general tend to either dip towards being unforgivingly elementary or indulgently introspective. There are plenty of other ways lyrics can go wrong or right, but to keep things simple, our most adored lyricists usually do a good job at finding the narrow middle ground between the two. Longstretch has always had a talent and obvious devotion for his words, but like never before his fully matured rationale is channeled through potent yet ambiguous lines.

Following what seems to be a natural progression towards a more relaxed form of songwriting, the Brooklyn outfit now seem to let the songs write themselves. I'm actually fairly curious as to how the numbers were conceived. Whether Dave wrote the foundation for "Gun Has No Trigger" on an acoustic guitar and completely changed things in the studio or if the whole orchestra was masterminded inside of his head is something I may never find out. 

In a sterling nod to more organic and present production approaches, Dirty Projectors end up bringing listeners a symphony of some of the most zealous guitar and drum trackings of recent years. Breaking down the artistry on a song by song basis would not only get old, it also wouldn't do the essentially perfect work justice.

Somewhat their token feature, the harmonies found on DP's latest effort are more ornate and fully developed this time around. It's hard to pick just one example where they assist in delivering a stout narrative in elegant form, but since we're ending this post on the subject we may as well pick the record's closer. With a descending vocal chorus so brutally heart-warming, it almost simultaneously makes Longstretch's pessimistic lament -- "a world crooked, fucked up and wrong" -- self-contradictory. Maybe that's the album's only flaw; the music is too charming for us to buy or be bothered by downbeat dialogue no matter how articulate.


Reader Comments (2)

my favorite behind Channel Orange.
December 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Yes! Even though this got good reviews I still feel like it was underrated.
December 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNB
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