Having fallen in love with Dirty Projectors’ 2017 alternative R&B breakup anthem “Keep Your Name,” I turned to this early offering on Freegal. Morning Better Last! is a 2003 compilation album of frontman David Longstreth’s early recordings, and the 23 tracks demonstrate this experimental phase of the band’s development, with some songs clocking in around 1 minute or under.
The opener, “The Softer Shell” has an assortment of wind instruments paired with acoustic guitar in a discordant and unrhythmic meandering. Tracks like “Brother Had a Birthday” and “Grandfather’s Jacket” are more rhythmic, even danceable, while continuing to experiment with unusual sounds and introducing slightly dissonant and somehow childlike vocals. The standout “Dahlonegabhama” features a compelling West African sound with layered percussion and voices, and “Further on Down the Strip” is an appealingly messy take on the blues. At only 37 seconds, “The Love-Prayer Book” is a wordless nod to gospel choirs, vaguely reminiscent of “Down to the River to Pray” from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, while “To Give It Weight” plays with a classic rock sound. The closing and title track, “Morning Had Better Last!” (which doesn’t last too long at 59 seconds) brings it back to the band’s roots - a singer with his guitar. It's all very experimental, very odd and very appealing to the listener who likes something different.
- Michelle (Sunset)
Morning Better Last! on Freegal
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