August 2, 2010

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
art-pop, progressive-pop

Bitte Orca strikes me as less a “pop album” and something more akin to an academic study in melody. Dave Longstreth assembles his pieces like a composer, and even though the results can be a little bit bewildering at times – it’s fair to say that he intentionally skews an awful lot of standard, pop-music conventions – there’s an underlying solidity to the songs that makes them surprisingly easy to sink into. In that regard, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Dirty Projectors and avant-pop pioneers Talking Heads. However, while David Dirty Projectors - Bitte OrcaByrne’s obsessions with world music and the exploration of sound resulted in Talking Head’s finest albums being amazingly broad in scope, Longstreth prefers to stay closer to home, sticking primarily to the use of guitar, bass, keys, percussion, mild electronics and (a myriad of uses of) the human voice. His toolkit might be limited, but he finds an incredible number of uses for every tool. Band members Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman, whose voices were used quite sparingly, if at all, on previous releases, get a stronger showing here, and the album is so much richer for it, with “Stillness is the Move” in particular being a wonderful vocal showcase. The album is possibly a little front loaded, with the first four tracks being arguably its best, but the quality remains high enough that it never becomes a problem. Fans of willfully creative and unusual pop music should consider this essential listening.


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