Dirty Projectors' first single in four years pushes toward a new direction

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This started so egregiously: Dave Longstreth singing “I don’t know why you abandoned / You were my soul and my partner” after a few church bells and over sparse instrumentation, stretching out syllables in that faux-soul way that’s been all the rage since the late-00s/early-10s (think: Bon Iver or James Blake or pre-weird Anohni). Real pain or not, this sort of melodrama rarely ever conveyed it.

And then, you know, everything changes.

Dirty Projectors haven’t put out anything in four years (though Longstreth has been busy by appearing on Joanna Newsom’s Divers and producing Bombino’s Azel), and they show us that they’ve added a few new tricks to their already considerable palette. Here, they use a glitchy beat (which makes the Anohni comparison more earned given her latest) and the song’s bridge is a suddenly detour into hip-hop (recalling a similar trick employed by new member Olga Bell this year on “Power User”); it’s a shift that it at once at odds and fits in with the rest of the track. And the Dirty Projectors remain one of the most color-focused and interesting indie pop/rock acts through the employment of a ghost child singing “We don’t see” before he/she/it is pitch-shifted into a scream.

In other words, a song that’s so refreshing it has me pulling out each of their previous records in anticipation of the next, even though this song suggests it will hardly sound like any of them.