Self-indulgence is a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s really annoying. On the other, it has been the root of most great art throughout history. Currently — and arguably since its inception — indie music finds itself submerged in a deluge of self-indulgence. And bobbing on the buoy amongst the Fiery Furnaces, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and anyone else Pitchfork Media has ever championed, we find The Dirty Projectors.
The Dirty Projectors are the creative ejaculation of Dave Longstreth, a Yale grad sporting equal parts Antony (sans the Johnsons) and Panda Bear from Animal Collective.
His most recent offering, Rise Above, charters new territory in egotism, reinventing Black Flag’s revolutionary album Damaged by swapping screams for croons and distortion for strings. As the story goes, Longstreth sat in a room with a four-track recorder recalling portions of the album, which he hadn’t listened to in years, and those tapes became the basis for Rise Above. The result is an epic, melodic, moody trip through an indie pop minefield.
Rise Above, aside from song titles and some choice vocals, bears little resemblance to the gritty punk of Black Flag. Instead, we find gymnastically exhausted falsetto, layered three-part harmonies and spastic pretty-to-dissonant shifts that conjure up questions of schizophrenia. By the final song I feel cheap, used and battered, yet strangely content. I’m only left with one desire, and that is to hear a revamped version of Black Flag’s “TV Party.” Always leave them wanting more, I suppose.