Album Review: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

June 9, 2009

Can you tell that they know Bjork?

Concept: From the label that brought you Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand comes a markedly softer and brighter pop rock album that is being lifted above its own hype, although probably not on par with the frontman’s staggering pretensions.

Sound: First things to be noted are the eccentric and derailed guitar and rhythm, that bring to mind both Captain Beefheart and a derivative of the Malian blues style, and then the trembling choral arrangements which could never be imitated by a lesser vocalist without souring and collapsing. This is all dropped onto a canvas of silence, little to no droning or backing chords to protect it. These bold combinations (skipping to 2:45), all but alien to Western preference, are the heart of the entire album, that vaults it over everything Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion wanted to be and takes the forefront for originality in composition and style so far this year. Occassionally the tracks will revert back to orchestral pop or decide to smack of Zeppelin, but the band’s innovation is never lost or shaken. The only issue is that the songs sometimes sound slapped together. This has nothing to do with the songwriting, just instrumentation, but it makes some transitions plain irritating.

Lyrics: Stupid. As you might expect from associates of vocal mastermind Bjork, the words are as corny as the syrup in your Gatorade, as you have fluffy jewelbirds that always free their hearts on rocky flames of brilliance although they could not stop for death and had to settle for suede tunics, with the few worthwhile images tripping over their own feet (I know the horizon is bright and motionless/like an EKG of a dying woman). Bitte Orca, like its title, means exactly what you think it does, and no, there’s no good reason for it; the frontman thought it sounded pretty.

Quick And Dirty: The kind of album that could only ask for more textural refinement, and even that might spoil its essence. Not so hot for casual listening or parties, but ripe with new sounds and ideas. Who knew experimental music just needed to turn down the volume? (♦♦♦♦½)

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