Caught in the middle of great expectations, Dirty Projectors’ new album could have fallen into the overly neurotic avant-garde and polyrhythmic experimentation patterns. It could definitely have happened, considering the Yale intellectual and artsy character of frontman David Longstreth, prone to fidgety, discordant, shrieking echoes and glitchy tunes. Yet, with Bitte Orca, he has managed to make his music approachable but still challenging, violent but still harmonious, tribal but still classical in layers.
Dirty Projectors’ distinct sound of past albums is clearly evident on ‘Useful Chamber’, where Longstreth yelps the title of the album through all the different rhythmic modes of this seven-minute piece. ‘Cannibal resource’ and ‘The Bride’ play with Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian’s background angelical voices as additional instrumentation and with Longstreth’s falsetto version of Jeff Buckley’s high pitch rollercoasters.
Poppiest approaches are ‘No intention’ and ‘Stillness is the move’, including lyrics such as ‘after what we’ve been through’ or ‘there is nothing we can do, baby’, with casual hints of the type of melodies pop girl bands would create, but with a refreshing breeze of strings and handmade demo-like ornamentation. Electro attempts are added in ‘Fluorescent Half Dome’, with washed away drums, keyboards and descending string and vocal arrangements.
But naked purity and sweetness is best represented here in ‘Two Doves’, strikingly similar to Nico’s ‘These Days’ yet produced in home-made format, crystal clear in timbre but raw in meaning.
Bitte Orca is a loud statement of Dirty Projectors’ individuality and identity, while moving towards more popular pastures. They do not shy off from intrigue, twisted anticipations and rapturous spells of measured anger. But they do now also add delicacy, suave elegance and troubadour serenades to their sparkly and powerful mix.
Words: Liane Escorza