Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dirty Projectors

Add Date: June 9

Artist: Dirty Projectors

Album: Bitte Orca

Label: Domino

Genre: Rock, experimental, pop

Comments: First off, let me say that Bitte Orca is absolutely brilliant, a stunning record from start to finish. It's easily the best Dirty Projectors release, a great leap forward from 2007's impressive Rise Above, and should find its way on to as many year-end Top 10 lists as Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest and Animal Collective's Meriweather Post Pavilion. But I worry that I don't have anything original to add about Bitte Orca, so I'll cop out and quote from two other reviews.

First, you kids like the Vampire Weekend, right? That band's lead singer, Ezra Koenig--who just so happens to be a former touring member of Dirty Projectors--reviewed their 2003 debut The Glad Fact, essentially a solo record from the band's frontman, by saying: "Dave Longstreth is making his own f***ed-up version of American music." Six years later, here's Koenig on Bitte Orca and its place in the Dirty Projectors discography: "[T]hat awkward phrase is crawling back into my head... I start to realize that this album can't be explained as reductively as Rise Above ('Damaged reimagined') or The Getty Address ('concept album about Don Henley with nods to modern R&B'). This is exciting... At first, I listen to this record hunting for a theme. I hear big riffs that make me think of classic rock, so I think, 'Is this Led Zeppelin deconstructed?' I hear folk guitar picking and gorgeous strings, so I think, 'Is this '60s folk-pop re-imagined?' But, as is usually the case, my lame attempts at categorization fade away and soon all I can hear is Dirty Projectors."

Now a selection from Paul Thompson's terrific review on Pitchfork: "Now comes Bitte Orca, the band's best, and certainly most likable, album by a mile. Bitte doesn't actually switch up the Rise Above formula that much: Intricate (if roomier) full-band arrangements abound, Longstreth largely sticks with his clear King Sunny Ade-meets-Jimmy Page guitar acrobatics, and he's still singing his strange, loping songs with that voice. But it whittles down the jarring time signatures and off-kilter arrangements and vocal bleats (er, for the most part) to create a triumphant art-pop record destined to please longtime fans and win him a whole slew of new ones. The key is that, rather surprisingly, Bitte Orca is one of the more enjoyable indie-rock records in an awfully long time; remarkable by any means, but even moreso considering the source. It's breezy without a hint of slightness, tuneful but with its fair share of tumult, concise and inventive and replayable and plain old fun. It is the sound of Longstreth the composer and Longstreth the pop songwriter finally settling on a few things together after years of tug-of-war between the two."

Go read the full review--it's certainly worth your time--and you can also watch Paul Thompson talking about the record on ABC News here.

Hopefully, that gives you a better idea of Bitte Orca, and a much greater grasp of the record than I could have provided. I will add that, unfortunately and unfairly, Longstreth's voice--as alluded to by Thompson--has long been a dealbreaker for many listeners. If that's the case, check out "Stillness Is the Move" and "Two Doves," in which Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian take the lead. But you'll be missing out on many of the album's other highlights, in particular "Useful Chamber," "Cannibal Resource," "No Intention" and "Temecula Sunrise."

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