Swing Lo Magellan - Dirty Projectors
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. Jul 2, 2012
    70
    While some listeners might find the Projectors' rather knowing idiosyncracy off-putting and smug, there are songs here that suggest the band has finally found the formula that finely balances its well-meaning musical intellectualism with actual pop songs.
  2. Jul 9, 2012
    80
    What really shines through the most on Magellan are the qualities that can be obscured when all the attention is paid to Dirty Projectors' obvious proficiency and omnivorous tastes: their enthusiasm and love for music. No matter how weird and challenging things might get, there's a feeling of joy that's palpable in the songs here.
  3. Jul 9, 2012
    88
    The band's least ornate batch of songs to date builds upon Longstreth's most direct and identifiable lyrics ever. Which means that Dirty Projectors have upped their emotional and structural accessibility all at once.
  4. Jul 5, 2012
    80
    For the first time, Longstreth's words offer real value rather than verbose decoration. [Aug 2012, p.81]
  5. Jul 25, 2012
    60
    It's the amped-up riff in the middle of Offspring Are Blank that best sums up their playful approach. They often flex their muscles without feeling the need to land a killer blow. [Aug 2012, p.97]
  6. Jul 19, 2012
    60
    Swing Lo works best at arm's length, admired like a diamond rather than held like a carbon-based life-form. [Aug 2012, p.91]
  7. Jul 13, 2012
    70
    On "Irresponsible Tune," leader Dave Longstreth harnesses the magic of bygone vocal groups like the Orioles and the Comedian Harmonists, singing about "a world crooked, f***ed up and wrong" and, briefly, makes it right.
  8. 70
    After exploring some most unlikely corners, Swing Lo Magellan is arguably its best at its simplest.
  9. Jul 10, 2012
    91
    By the dazzlingly innovative and heartfelt record's end, the band has worked in a bit of everything it has to offer, and offered it with winning sincerity.
  10. Jul 9, 2012
    80
    Swing Lo Magellan packs as many different ideas as ever into a new set of songs while offering perhaps the clearest and most satisfying picture yet of what the band is about.
  11. Jul 3, 2012
    90
    Swing Lo Magellan affords generous breathing space to Dirty Projectors' music: a context in which new levels of unpretentious eloquence positively flourish.
  12. Jul 2, 2012
    80
    Swing Lo Magellan, then--deadly serious even at its most eccentric, wilfully awkward even at its most accessible, dense and intricate even at its most freewheeling. Same as it ever was.
  13. Jul 9, 2012
    90
    The Dirty Projectors' best album by a mile holds that balance, all magnificent wobble, no collapse.
  14. Jul 2, 2012
    80
    The best moments of Swing Lo Magellan transcend whatever intentions their author may have had, as amazing songs are wont to do.
  15. 75
    It should be thrillingly anarchic; instead, it just meanders.
  16. 80
    These are some of the most challenging songs in the band's catalog, yet they're more approachable than ever before. [Aug 2012, p.88]
  17. 80
    Swing Lo Magellan is an album that will break hearts, bring joy, and deliver emotional notes that few others could.
  18. Jul 10, 2012
    40
    Simply put, the music on Swing Lo can't support its great ideas. To quote Dylan, "a song is anything that can walk by itself." Maybe time will prove me completely and utterly wrong, but as far as I can tell, nothing on Swing Lo walks by itself.
  19. Jul 10, 2012
    80
    The source of Swing Lo Magellan's charm, for it truly is a charming collection, is that it's a record that doesn't try be anything other than exactly what it is.
  20. Jul 12, 2012
    80
    Every element is given space to shine--a nice break from the overproduced bedroom-recording sound that's become standard in indie rock.
  21. Jul 9, 2012
    90
    Wild, wooly, and willfully chaotic.
  22. Jul 2, 2012
    80
    The result is an album that is far less-crowded than previous works and one that, on the whole, feels suitably bucolic.
  23. Jul 27, 2012
    84
    The channel still churns on Swing Lo Magellan, but Longstreth has built sturdy songs with solid foundations here, trapping his confusion in a container.
  24. Jul 27, 2012
    73
    They have it in them to write great pop music or truly important experimental music, but Dirty Projectors have to decide where they want to end up before they start.
  25. Jul 12, 2012
    90
    The album is a melting pot of so many brilliant musical perspectives, which could only be channelled by a band with a gleeful, wide-eyed fascination with the possibilities of their music. And they succeed in their knowing but expertly-delivered goal: to sound like no other band out there.
  26. Jul 18, 2012
    70
    Swing Lo Magellen sounds forced and cluttered... highlights a dearth of skill when it comes to self-editing. [No.89 p.54]
  27. Sep 13, 2012
    78
    Dirty Projectors has never done so much with so little, a rare feat reiterated by the disarming, insistent standout, "Gun Has No Trigger."
  28. Jul 12, 2012
    80
    The band certainly doesn't sound one hundred percent confident (or even comfortable) moving into more accessible territory, but their fidgetiness results in one of the most intriguing listens of the year.
  29. Jul 11, 2012
    88
    Dirty Projectors still get itchy at the prospect of sleek surfaces, and their uneasiness is a thrill to behold.
  30. 75
    When Longstreth uses his newfound focus to shake up his methods... the results are often startling.
  31. Jul 9, 2012
    70
    [Swing Lo Magellan] is instantly likeable. It makes perfect sense, but unravels into nonsense and complexity on second glance.
  32. Jul 24, 2012
    60
    More often than not the group sound like they're going through the motions. [Jul 2012, p.57]
  33. Jul 11, 2012
    80
    It's the sound of Dirty Projectors just being themselves and fully justifying the royalty status Longstreth and Co. now enjoy.
  34. Jul 3, 2012
    80
    This is an album that seems to spring from an indoor world of cerebral textures and bedroom experiments, a headphone odyssey for an era in which the rock gig has become a corporate-sponsored burlesque.
  35. There is so much to both genuinely appreciate and enjoy on Swing Lo Magellan that it makes you wonder why these have to sometimes be exclusive ways to experience an album.
  36. 80
    On the band's gorgeous sixth album, there's a new directness to the songs.
  37. It may not be for everyone, but it's evidence that there are still some restless minds out there.
  38. Jul 12, 2012
    80
    The Dirty Projectors are still fantastic weirdos making fantastically weird music, but Swing Lo Magellan humanizes them by letting you see through to their heartstrings.
  39. Jul 12, 2012
    70
    Swing Lo Magellan features some of the Dirty Projectors' most straightforward pop songs to date.
  40. Jul 6, 2012
    80
    It's pretty f***ing awesome.
  41. Aug 8, 2012
    80
    Sometimes brilliant, often infuriating, it's a must-check nonetheless.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 78 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. Jul 11, 2012
    9
    More approachable than Bitte Orca, but just as carefully crafted. This album's pleasantness does not detract from its artistry, and its artistry does not impede its pleasantness. Hardcore Dirty Projectors fans may need a couple extra spins to appreciate the changes in Longstreth's songwriting, but this is a truly excellent album. Full Review »
  2. Dec 18, 2012
    10
    With this one, David has slowed down the prog elements and made them more digestible for the impatient and unintelligent. What you hear when you listen is an ultra advanced musician dumbing down music to the level he feels comfortable doing so, and it is great. Full Review »
  3. Aug 19, 2012
    9
    I was always a fan of The Dirty Projectors since I first heard Bitte Orca. Although I didn't find that album to be quite the masterpiece it was being hailed as from a lot of people, I still found it to be a solid record that did grow on me over time. Swing Lo Magellan is a different beast, however. It's the sound of a complete band coming together. It's as if The Dirty Projectors dabbled in music to finally make this album. Dave Longstreth has clearly matured as a musician. From his vocals to his songwriting, He does no wrong in this album. All In All, Swing Lo Magellan is one of the best albums this year. A- Full Review »