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Hear Dirty Projectors' First New Song Since 2012

Dirty Projectors' early career opened a virtual fire hydrant of ideas: albums overstuffed with sound and chaos, reined in by real artistry, released in rapid succession. But as bandleader David Longstreth honed his vision, the hydrant's flow has given way to a trickle. It's been more than four years since the last new Dirty Projectors album, Swing Lo Magellan, and Longstreth himself has stayed largely out of the public eye.

If "Keep Your Name" is any indication, the time off hasn't gone smoothly. A song about betrayal and loss, it's got a tortured, deeply conflicted video to match, complete with footage of instruments getting smashed, Longstreth drawing poop emojis (!) and dramatic closeups of faces in distress. It's wrenching stuff, yet it also retains Dirty Projectors' crucial sense of play, complete with a rapped aside that encompasses everything from the aforementioned poop emojis to a Gene Simmons reference.

Those seeking hints as to the song's motivation won't be disappointed — "What I want from art is truth," Longstreth sings at one point, adding, "What you want is fame" — but that story will likely be told soon enough. In the meantime, it's just nice to have him back.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)