Album Review Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

In ‘Bitte Orca’ they maintain a sense of superiority over an everyday modern pop act, whilst incorporating one outstanding detail into each and every song, an accessibility factor, shall we say, that makes the whole listen stick in your head rather than forcing you to scratch it in bewilderment.

Making what you do best ‘user friendly’ is a horrible process, bordering on torturous. From a reviewer’s perspective, it takes talent and guts to become a Smash Hits writer. From a musician’s perspective, the same blood, sweat and tears have been necessary for Dirty Projectors in transferring their inventive, exploratory ideas into something more simplified and accessible. It’s not as if record sales are at the edge of Dave Longstreth’s lips - perhaps it’s merely another chapter in their adventure as a band, to explore lower heights. But any criticism towards their previous releases was concentrated in at their, some would say, unnecessarily complex songwriting.

In ‘Bitte Orca’ they maintain a sense of superiority over an everyday modern pop act, whilst incorporating one outstanding detail into each and every song, an accessibility factor, shall we say, that makes the whole listen stick in your head rather than forcing you to scratch it in bewilderment. Said moments come in the form of Longstreth’s passionate outburst of ‘Bitte Orca! Orca Bitte!’ over and over in ‘Useful Chamber’, a move you can anticipate slightly due to the occasional burst of energy from the raw guitars. There’s also the opening sound on the record, the warped, swerving chord-section on ‘Cannibal Resource’, setting the agenda of what’s to come from a surprisingly, instantaneously impacting record. Or more noticeably, there’s ‘Stillness Is The Move’, an unnerved attempt at a fully fledged R’n’B hit, assisted by Angel Deradoorian’s hypnotic and tuneful vocal delivery, akin to the likes of Carey and Aaliyah and proud to declare it. Crystal-clear background adds any sparkle and glamour required, to obstruct the dominant, acute guitar riff that somehow adds to the sense of innocent pop.

Variety in songwriting (from ‘Sleepyhead’-esque blogosphere wet dreams to more gently applied acoustic numbers) plays copycat with the individual moods reeking out of each of the nine tracks. ‘Two Doves’’ homage to Nico with the lyric ‘Don’t confront me with my failures’ is just a minor part of what comes across as a joyous tribute of love - building in momentum until an interruptive string section suddenly jumps into the heart of the song. These gradual changes are most evident in ‘Useful Chamber’, dipping in and out of the pop glitz of ‘Stillness…’ the blissful acoustic plucking of ‘Two Doves’ and the full-frontal obnoxious furore of the opening two tracks - it’s the testing point for any casual listener just arriving for an addition to a house party playlist, the definitive album highlight and the absolute example of Longstreth’s determination in applying ridiculously innovatory artistry into more commonplace song textures.

But the most noble achievement of ‘Bitte Orca’ is its maintaining of every ounce of integrity and pride the band came into the studio with before they even considered making this gutsy move. In comparison, yes, ‘Bitte Orca’ is a strong streamlining of what they’ve made previous, but when looking at the big picture, it’s still the most inventive and at the same time, provocative album any band has released for a heck of a long time.

 

More like this