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Dirty Projectors, Joan of Arc and Stuart Staples take fans by surprise

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Dirty Projectors
  • Dirty Projectors
Even musicians who’ve earned their reputations for eclecticism, unpredictability and overall torment can still take their fans by surprise.

Take, for instance, Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors, who have leaped into the sunshine with Lamp Lit Prose (Domino) in the wake of David Longstreth’s depressing 2017 album about his breakup with guitarist Amber Coffman. The 10 songs here may come across to some as misfired experiments in manic pop, but there’s no denying their infusion of South African polyrhythms with strange electronic effects. Guest appearances by Haim and Empress Of make this album surprisingly fun and inspired.

Tim Kinsella, meanwhile, has taken his Chicago act Joan of Arc in many directions across more than 20 albums. In 2017, Kinsella introduced visual artist Melina Ausikaitis as guitarist and occasional vocalist. On the new 1984 (Joyful Noise), she sings on all nine tracks, delivering tales of rural childhood in a hillbilly twang. Even diehard Joan of Arc fans may find this turn unsettling, but there is something oddly compelling about her delivery.

Finally, we come to Stuart Staples, the morose baritone fronting Nottingham’s Tindersticks. His new solo album Arrhythmia (Lucky Dog/City Slang) offers four experimental tracks exceeding 50 minutes, capped by a 30-minute instrumental. Staples’ familiar world-weary voice takes a back seat to dissonant orchestral music and electronic washes, but the ambitious listener will still find plenty to like.

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