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The 50 Best Albums of 2012

42. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan

Label: Domino
Released: July 10

The machinery of Dave Longstreth's strained warble-shout, supported by the golden harmonies of Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle, has been reconfigured. "Offspring Are Blank," the opener of Dirty Projector's Swing Lo Magellan, announces the change. The coos of Longstreth, Coffman, and Dekle—Deradoorian was not involved in this LP—mingle as equals before a buzzsaw of a guitar butts in. Then Longstreth's shouting. Nasty guitars and the frontman's laffy-taffy melisma are the dominant force. (Except when they aren't, but the inconsistency reinforces the loosened-tie approach.)

If the band was once an expression of will, a showcase for the possibility of human voices under extreme control, things are now coming unhinged. Longstreth hasn't caterwauled like he does on "Gun Has No Trigger" since The Glad Fact. Beats form the backbone of many of the songs, rather than the voices of the band's women. Makes sense that they'd strike out in a different direction, as Bitte Orca was the sound Longstreth had been fine tuning since the New Attitude EP made perfectly crystal. Swing Lo Magellan is the pretty shards after everything breaks. —Ross Scarano

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