Friday, May 22, 2009

review of "Bitte Orca" by Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca ****1/2

Just when I thought nothing would compel as much as Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion this year, here comes Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors and their new album Bitte Orca. Hot damn, is this album just plain excellent.
If one looks up “left-of-field” in the dictionary, you will definitely find a picture of the group or mastermind Dave Longstreth. Previous songs have predominantly involved epic battle between finches and humans. 2005’s so-called “glitch opera”, The Getty Address, was about musician Don Henley contemplating suicide, and of course had songs about finches. Their previous album Rise Above was Longstreth’s attempt to remember Black Flag’s classic Damaged. So to say the least, Dave Longstreth and Co, is not afraid to bring in the shock and awe.
Now we have Bitte Orca, and it’s pretty much safe to say it is their most accessible album. Songs that sound like a long lost collaboration between Prince and Talking with vocalizing women, drumming patterns and nothing involving finches (well, from what I understand). Like myself, one doesn’t need to have much knowledge about Dirty Projectors’ previous work when you listen to Bitte Orca. It’s sexy, cool and will have those Top 40 summer jams running for their money.
To be honest, it’s sort of hard to describe the album’s overall sound and feel. Is it funky? Is it pop? Or R&B? The songs here will take you in with their mesmerizing melodies, like the brilliant and sexy single “Stillness is the Movie”, with it’s plucky riff and brilliant vocal work from the women of the group. This song will definitely be the single of the summer. For Williamsburg, that is. “Useful Chamber” is, for a lack of a better term, the album’s “fun song”. Beginning with some soft keyboard work and crooning from all the members, it blasts into furious riffing, and then it get’s calms again with some platonic vocalizing. Or the opener “ Cannibal Resource” which sets the tone of the album with sound that will get into one’s head and will never get out.
Like I mentioned above, one cannot really point out where did these songs came from. To put it in David Byrne, aka lead singer of Talking Heads, they are band whose songs are “completely strange and oddly familiar at the same time.” Byrne’s statement can never be so true. While the Dirty Projectors have made something new, fresh and hard to explain, it sound like some of the best songs we have heard in awhile. It’s safe to say that Longstreth is someone who has obsessively studied pop music’s sound and structures, destroyed it in seconds, and then rebuilt in his own, special way. Bitte Orca is the sound of pop self-destructing and it sounds so good.

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