Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth has always had an air of pretension befitting a Yale musical-composition major; he uses his scratchy, soukous-style guitar playing and nervous warble (pitched somewhere between Arthur Russell vulnerability and David Byrne paranoia) in service of high concepts like The Getty Address’ bizarre, Don Henley-starring folktale and Rise Above’s Black Flag “re-imagining.” But Bitte Orca suggests that school is finally out for summer: “Look around at everyone / Everyone looks alive and waiting,” Longstreth sings over the loping, sun-dappled groove of the opener, “Cannibal Resource,” as close to a throw-your-hands-in-the-air moment as the band has ever produced—until “Stillness Is The Move,” of course. With its nodding R&B beat and Amber Coffman’s melismatic vocals, that breakout waiting to happen is but one “all the single ladies” shout-out away from being a Hot 97 jam. Over nine indispensable tracks, Bitte Orca forges a more perfect union between eccentricity and accessibility: The pop crescendos of “Temecula Sunrise” filter through what feels like 10 different time signatures; the warped electro pulse of “Useful Chamber” dissolves into finger-picked introspection before exploding in noise-rock abandon; restless guitar skitters, and esoteric Nico references add anxiety to the heart-stilling balladry of “No Intention” and “Two Doves,” respectively. Much ink will likely be spilled on 2009 being the year that Brooklyn’s experimental class finally went “pop,” and—with apologies to Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear—it’d be hard to find a better thesis statement.
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