album review for the skinny
Dirty Projectors' last album, Rise Above, was an attempt by New Yorker Dave Longstreth to recreate Black Flag's Damaged despite not having heard it for 15 years. Yeah, it's a great idea, but the execution wasn't totally smooth. Bitte Orca is where it all comes good for Longstreth, the hifalutin conceptuals dropped in favour of writing idea-crammed songs with almost-pop hooks.
Momentarily reminiscent of Pere Ubu, Talking Heads, King Sunny Ade, Nico, The Fiery Furnaces, Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel and on and ariston, Bitte Orca sounds wholly like no-one at all. Hear how his vocals leap and spin over complex fingerpicking and Afropop rhythms on Temecula Sunrise; how the female vocals of Stillness Is The Move soar like an R&B diva's, adding pop shine and grace to all the underlying oddness. Listen to how Useful Chamber glides from Casio demo mode beats and natty rapping to a raucous garage rock freakout to a chorus of painful-then-angelic cries to bizarre crooning balladry and, whew, back to Jack White's nightmares again.
Bitte Orca is playful and romantic, and often quite bewildering, but for all the elastic singing and idiosyncratic structuring, it's also Longstreth's most lovable set yet.