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New Music: Dirty Projectors, “Gun Has No Trigger”

Dirty Projectors, New York’s bastion of beautiful indie art-rock, grabbed a bunch more ears than they had previously with their 2009 breakthrough album, Bitte Orca. Bold, angular and rhythmic, the band hasn’t generally been thought of as soulful. The Amber Coffman-sung “Stillness Is The Move” was a notable exception, however. Just ask Solange Knowles.

Now, with the new tune that David Longstreth and company recently debuted on their website and the Domino Records SoundCloud page, it would appear that Dirty Projectors – and Longstreth in particular – have stepped up the soul in the vocal department, even if musically it’s not quite “Stillness.”

“Gun Has No Trigger” pushes the band ever so slightly into that middle ground between minimalist avant garde indie rock and the early ’80s New Romanticism brand of soul and pop. No, Longstreth is not quite as smooth as ABC’s Martin Fry or Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, but his delivery is close enough to their New Romantic trope to make ye old ears stand up and take note.

As for Dirty Projectors’ trademark female backing vocals (courtesy of Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle), they’re the exact same enchanting chorus of harmonic sirens that they were on Bitte Orca and the 2010 Bjork collabo Mount Wittenberg Orca. As they should be. They provide the soothing, relatable backdrop to Longstreth’s barrage of visual, abstract lyrics: “Distance, justice, power / You’d glimpse the password / You wouldn’t need the book / You’d own both slave and master / If you just had looked.” What does it mean? Decide for yourself. There’s plenty of time for that. It will just keep sounding more and more intensely good as you keep trying to crack the code, which won’t even matter anymore at some point.

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Michael Fortes began writing for Popdose upon its launch in January of 2008, following a music writing journey that began with his high school newspaper and eventually led to print and web publications such as Performer Magazine and Born and raised in The Biggest Little State in the Union (otherwise known as Rhode Island), Michael relocated in 2004 to San Francisco, where he works as an office professional during the day, sings harmonies in Sugar Candy Mountain at night, and religiously supports the local San Francisco Bay Area music scene nearly every chance he gets.