Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
For an album so accessible, Bitte Orca is dense. Compositionally speaking, David Longstreth’s arrangements are heavily layered, and expertly nuanced, which is the Dirty Projectors’ biggest ace-in-the-hole. Lush strings lie atop intricate finger-picked folk guitars and soaring vocals, at times feeling almost empty in all their sprawling glory (the wilting “Two Doves”). I don’t think I’ve really spent time with this album since ‘09 ended, so this was a nice little reminder of the band’s strengths and where they work best. Honestly, it hasn’t aged as well as I’d hoped over the last year or two, and I feel like Longstreth’s gift for subversive composition (the hip-hop break that leads directly into a Thurston Moore style screeching guitar jam in “Useful Chamber”, for example) serves better in “experiments” like 2007’s Rise Above (a benchmark I use as a litmus test for many “re-imaginations” of classic pieces of art). One thing I will say about the maturation of this record is that it feels a lot more fun than it did a year ago. I feel like repeat listens allowed me to strip away a lot of pretense, and revealed a joy in songwriting freedom that you don’t see in many other “art-pop” bands. It’s like the Lichtenstein of art-pop (pop-art-art-pop?); a pastiche of familiar banal images undermined with tongue planted firmly in cheek.