If you missed Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca
in the Summer of 2009, the opportunity to catch up has arrived. On September 28th, Domino Records re-released the album as a two-disk set, with bonus material. If you still have not heard Dirty Projectors at all, this might be the perfect introductory record.
On Bitte Orca
, Dirty Projectors swap much of the dissonance and avant-garde composing of the band's earlier records for a more straight-forward, upbeat sound. I don't mean this as a euphemism for 'boring'. Songs still engage in tempo shifts. Drums and voices rise in fall, and frontman Dave Longstreth remains more composer than songwriter, but he's (mostly) ditched the artistic noise and decay that alienated listeners from his earlier work. This works to the Projectors' credit, allowing the band's exceptional, if somewhat divisive vocal talent, and guitar work room to breathe.
It's hard to resist comparisons to more recent work by the New Pornographers. Vocalists Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian, previously confined to singing backup, have each occasionally been given the lead, and while the different voices offer variety to the album, an overarching tone still creates a sense of unity. Dirty Projectors may lack the tension provided for the New Pornographers in the form of Newman's foil, Dan Bejar, but no two songs from Bitte Orca sound too much alike. The division of vocal duties highlights the difference in lyrical qualities: where the relative accessibility of songs like "Two Doves" grant them a certain sentimental charm, others hover on the fringes of obscurity. The philosophizing on "Stillness Is The Move" feels a little banal, but it's hardly a dent in what could easily be the Projectors' strongest record to date.
Along with the original album, September's reissue includes a second disk of bonus material, including a five track acoustic set from Other Music, vinyl B-sides from "Stillness Is The Move" and "Ascending Melodies", and a cover of Bob Dylan's "As I Went Out One Morning". I'd rather the acoustic tracks were on their own disk, but unless you still don't have an MP3 player, I doubt this will cause much of a problem.
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MP3: "Stillness Is The Move"
The Dirty Projectors on Myspace