Thursday, December 31, 2009
Albums of the Year, 2009 : 15 - Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
"Bitte doesn't actually switch up the Rise Above formula that much: Intricate (if roomier) full-band arrangements abound, Longstreth largely sticks with his clear King Sunny Ade-meets-Jimmy Page guitar acrobatics, and he's still singing his strange, loping songs with that voice. But it whittles down the jarring time signatures and off-kilter arrangements and vocal bleats (er, for the most part) to create a triumphant art-pop record destined to please longtime fans and win him a whole slew of new ones. The key is that, rather surprisingly, Bitte Orca is one of the more purely enjoyable indie-rock records in an awfully long time; remarkable by any means, but even moreso considering the source. It's breezy without a hint of slightness, tuneful but with its fair share of tumult, concise and inventive and replayable and plain old fun. It is the sound of Longstreth the composer and Longstreth the pop songwriter finally settling on a few things together after years of tug-of-war between the two.
...Songs run the gamut from Zeppelin III-style swirl (sorta-title-track "Useful Chamber") to delicate balladry ("Two Doves", a dead ringer for Nico's cover of Jackson Browne's "These Days" and no less gorgeous for it) to R&B bob-and-weave ("Stillness Is the Move", which owes a great debt to the dearly departed Aaliyah-Timbaland braintrust) to adult-contemporary pop (no shots, "No Intention"). Apart from the ultimately transitional whoosh of the brief "The Bride", the run from "Cannibal Resource" to "No Intention" is as solid and variegated a display of songwriting acumen and instrumental virtuosity as any you'll hear this year. But it sure doesn't feel as heavy as that sentence might have you believe."
- Paul Thompson, Pitchfork