Secret Meeting score: 77
by Philip Moss
Dave Longstreth is somewhat becoming the Mark E. Smith of the New York alternative indie scene, in that he churns out music at a rate of knots. Lamp Lit Prose comes just a year after Dirty Projectors’ self titled seventh album and he’s been through over 30 members since their incarnation in 2002. But unlike The Fall, which saw Smith collaborate with his revolving cast all the way up to last year’s final record, New Facts Emerge, Lamp Lit Prose is in all but name a Longstreth solo record. Despite some high profile guest vocalists, all but one song on the record is credited solely to the auteur.
In 2015, Longstreth collaborated with Rhianna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney on the one off single, FourFiveSeconds, which along with his production work on Solange’s superb, A Seat at the Table, informed much of last year’s self titled, RnB heavy record. But for long time fans, you may be pleased to hear that Lamp Lit Prose comes without the generic noughties’ production and is more eclectically reminiscent of the band’s earlier works.
Opener, Right Now, is a reef knot of twisted acoustic guitars that unwinds into a lovely auto tuned chorus and blare of trumpets. While those of you that have been eagerly awaiting a new Vampire Weekend record for what seems like forever, Break-Thru has more than enough to tie you over in the meantime. Its jolty, kaleidoscopic guitars spiral under Longstreth’s psychedelic vocals that reference Archimedes, Federico Fellini and Julian Casablancas.
Speaking of Vampire Weekend, ex-keyboard player/lead songwriter, Rostam Batmanglij, joins Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold on You’re The One, but the pair’s contribution is subtle rather than standout. That said, it’s a lovely song, possibly the record’s highlight, and another one that emphasises Longsteth’s stranglehold on proceedings even when high profile guests are invited to the party. Before finale, (I Wanna) Feel It All, brings the record to its curveball, film noir-evoking, lounge jazz finale.
Lamp Lit Prose is most certainly a heterogeneous affair. But that is not a criticism. Despite lacking a narrow tightly reigned focus, its beauty definitely lies in its hop scotch, somewhat unpredictable nature.