Listening to Dirty Projectors usually requires your undivided attention to plumb the depths of Dave Longstreth’s labyrinthine musical mind. This is the case whether he is re-imagining a punk album (as on Rise Above) or writing a rock opera paying tribute to Don Henley (The Getty Address). In the group’s latest album, it feels as if Longstreth has emerged from his cerebral musical world to take stock of the simpler things, and found them worth setting to music as well. The result is a sun-drenched tracklist which manages to retain the unexpected rhythms and expansive choral harmonies from albums past, but reconfigures these elements into the band’s most accessible album to date.
To call anything from Dirty Projectors “pop” is using the broadest definition of the word, as each song contains influences from far-flung corners of the musical world. ‘Useful Chamber’ hints at African influences from between its synthesized chords (and in the headbanger breakdown smack dab in the middle of the song). ‘Stillness Is the Move’ interprets R&B as sung by a four-part all-girl chamber choir, lead by Amber Coffman’s gorgeous vocals. Coffman is showcased throughout the album, such as on the sweetly sorrowful acoustic ballad ‘Two Doves’. Longstreth takes lead vocals himself on other tracks including ‘Temecula Sunrise’, which to my mind is best described as a classic summer guitar jam reinterpreted using every time signature available.
Taken as a whole, Bitte Orca is an eclectic collection which surprises and intrigues as a Dirty Projector record should, only this time around Longstreth and company seem to be inviting us to stop thinking so hard and start singing along.
Tags: Dirty Projectors