Bitte OrcaAlbum |
Approaching the mainstream while maintaining an experimental streak.
With 2007's Rise Above (a song-by-song reimagining of Black Flag's hardcore classic Damaged), Dirty Projectors became the sort of indie band aging NPR listeners namedrop to convince themselves they're still connected to contemporary music. Collaborations with formerly hip acts like David Byrne and Bjork further burnished their credibility with that demographic, which would lead one to assume that their high-profile follow-up would continue that trend. Interestingly, however, Bitte Orca returns to the thorny experimentalism of Dirty Projectors' low-profile early releases. From a technical perspective, this is by some distance the Projectors' best-sounding album, with a more prominent rhythm section providing a solid foundation for the spiky, at times nearly atonal guitar parts and the band's increasingly complex vocal harmonies. But this newfound directness is put in service of cheerfully abstract songs like "Useful Chamber," a multi-part epic fusing wiggly '80s synth-bass lines, crystalline finger-picked acoustic guitars, and a crashing stadium-rock chorus. It might not win many new converts from the Starbucks-and-Volvos crowd, but Bitte Orca shows that it's possible to approach the mainstream while still maintaining an experimental streak.