Traditionally, I’ve filed album reviews under “First Look” — a tag that doesn’t make much sense months after the fact. So I’ll admit I’m late to the Dirty Projectors party, but I don’t think they’d have it any other way. Bitte Orca is a great album for the same reasons I initially brushed it off: it’s difficult and dense, a demonstration of dizzying talent that hardly shows its strengths on first listen. In a year when one outgoing indie trend hides half-sketched songs under Sharpie’d noise and an incoming one eschews momentum for easy (admittedly awesome) grooves, Bitte Orca‘s complexity and clarity sounds almost rebellious.
Dirty Projectors’ tools are melody and rhythm, angled and sliced in stunning directions. Playing with the verve and brightness of Blue Note-era Coltrane, the Brooklyn band squeezes their jams into four-minute pop songs, taking the painterly approach of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot — each new verse and chorus adds fresh layers.
It’s not a flawless record: none of the band’s singers, least of all frontman Dave Longstreth and his lovable but sub-Antony theatrics, is as able a vocalist as they think they are; “Two Doves” borrows heavily from Nico’s “These Days” without matching her gravity; and the generous creative spark accorded to the guitar pyrotechnics rarely extends to the percussion. Still, these are minor concerns in a big-picture album whose broad canvas should embarrass the ambitions of a number of the band’s New York neighbors. Bitte Orca lands between edgy art and the comfort of rock catharsis; it’s the best of both worlds. We should get Miley to tweet about it. (Update: Miley literally deleted her Twitter page this morning. She must be a reader!)
Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”:mp3
More: New Music