The Dirty Projectors tread a fine line in between the realms of experimental "freak folk" and complex, melody driven pop music. Luckily for the Brooklyn based band, their latest album, Bitte Orca (Domino), finds the high point of both worlds. With their intricately layered arrangements and harmonies, the album inspires not genre definitions, but instead a sure to be classic collection of beautifully crafted, bittersweet songs.
Opening track "Stillness is the Move" wraps M.I.A. reminiscent female vocals around fickle electronica melodies and an irregular rhythm that drives the track. The variation within the song itself is a storyline...a journey captured in echoed, ethereal voices cooing a landscape of unpredicted musical bliss. A slight departure from most of the album, "Two Doves" is a pure, sweet ballad in classic pretty girl voice and dancing finger picked acoustic guitars, soft and feathered. The sudden swirls of instruments and the singer's voice carry a careless broken hearted love song that begs, "Don't confront me with my failures"; a line that suits the understated simplistic beauty in the track with a familiar resigned sadness.
Then there are epics like "Useful Chamber". With a deceptively gentle opening, the song builds up to frenzied explosions of instruments that turn the album title, "Bitte Orca, orca bitte" into a religious chant that reiterates throughout the unpredictable track. Six minutes of tempos, styles and moods infused in a remarkably coherent and brilliant blend that releases in a sudden structured ladder of "ohhhs" and "ahhhs"...the voices with a striking precision underlying the lyrics, and then back into the rushes of colliding instruments and textures.
The Dirty Projectors have the ability to make a track as contained or furious as they desire, even within the turns of a song itself. Then in songs like "No Intention," they let the sprinkled instruments, gorgeous backup vocals, and collective handclaps orchestrate the stylized song with both a tight, collected, and natural ease. "Bitte Orca and its' myriad of patterns and styles, its' ability to turn backup vocals into instrumentation, and swirls of dreamy, whimsical, complex evolution and storytelling, is, at its core, a gorgeous soundscape, distinctive, unpretentious, and passionate in the subtlest twists and turns of every melody. - Laura Yan