The Dirty Projectors: Rise Above (Dead Ocean, 2007)

October 9th, 2007

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.

-CJ Knowles

Whaling Wall Matthew Farrell
Chow Feng Shui Josh Elmer
Stained Glass Ceiling Emily McNeill
Anarchitect Mike Berlin
SaHarrison Desert Harrison Flatau
Metrolollipopolis Jennifer Konerman
Tropic of Scurvy Heather Newberger
Copy Editors Danielle Sherwood
  Jenna Scatena
  Elliott Feedore
Adviser Mary Beth O’Connor
Chief Residents Abby Bertumen
  Kelly Burdick
  Bryan Chambala
  Sam Costello
  Cole Louison
  James Sigman

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Front cover and back cover of print edition by Jake I. Forney.
Section dividers of print edition by Jake I. Forney and Justin Lubliner.