Let’s get this out of the way at the start, Dirty Projectors are not a band for those that are fans of music that is accessible to the masses. Dirty Projectors are strange and as far as I can tell…they are ok with this fact. About To Die is the four song EP that follows their summer release Swing Lo Magellan is where the title track originally comes from. The rest of the EP is all new material though.
Kicking off the four song EP is the rerelease of the title track. About to Die is a quirky and strange tune and is the perfect opener to the mini album. This is a track that tells you everything you need to know about the band’s musical sensibilities. The song has a great experimental feel to it where an almost reggae feel to the bass and percussion support a smooth vocal melody that rises and falls all over the place. Don’t let the title deceive you, About To Die is a cheery sounding tune and triumphant in tone.
From here we move to While You’re Here and the experimental sound isn’t finished yet. This song builds off of a string instrumentation that hovers on the edge of discordance without ever quite plunging over. Added to this is a vocal line that moves all over the place. This song isn’t soothing background music, yet it remains oddly compelling sounding almost like a plea to the song’s audience.
Washed out guitars and a strong bass line are the sounds that capture my ear on Here Til It Says I’m Not. Vocally, it feels that this is where Dave Longstreth really lets himself cut loose. His melody moves all over the place with all his usual flourishes and embellishments but when he gets to the chorus it grabs your attention and refuses to let go.
The EP finishes on what is perhaps the most conventional of the songs, Simple Request. The acoustic guitar, the drums, the reverbed vocals…all of this feels like a song with retro 60s roots. Unfortunately, by this point I’ve become used to the risk taking musical adventures of The Dirty Projectors and this feels a bit disappointing. A song that is fine by its own merits but doesn’t quite match the level of the previous tracks. In comparison it is left a little bland.
All in all, About To Die is an impressive EP that stands as a cheap and worthwhile introduction for new listeners. The band is quirky, and strange, but I will be damned if that change isn’t refreshing.