Dirty Projectors | Bitte Orca

Domino (2009)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  June 10, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars

VIDEO: Dirty Projectors, "Remade Horizon" (live at SxSW 2009)

Suite relief: Dirty Projectors' breakthrough has but one concept: Rule. By Michael Alan Goldberg.

Hard act to follow: TV on the Radio + Dirty Projectors live at House of Blues, June 3, 2009. By Ryan Stewart.

You're going to be hearing a lot more about this album than you might actually hear from it. Why? Because it's far simpler to succumb to a lulling, repetitive chorus of praise than it is to surrender to the pull of Dave Longstreth's often uncertain seas. His work under the Dirty Projectors moniker has been reliably unreliable — unmistakably his, but unconvincingly controlled. Often his concepts were like startled horses dragging the cart of the execution behind it. I'm happy to report that the crush of hype — sprung from a leak in the blogosphere two months early — is on point: the only thing Dirty Projectors' fifth album leaves me wishing for is a fifth rating star to wedge in. "Accessible" doesn't quite fit Bitte Orca, and it needs no disclaimer as "their pop album" — because it's not.

Perhaps the summit of Longstreth's achievement is his decisive victory over hyphenation. There's nothing to be gained from critical distillations of the various and varied sources of his inspiration — be it the strangely baroque kwassa kwassa guitar gestures of "No Intention," or the weird wormholes in "Useful Chamber" that connect his often Björkian electronics with the vocals of Amber Chase and Angel Deradoorian (characterized once by Longstreth himself as "disco car ad harmonies"), or the thoroughly modern, thoroughly mathy tense-and-release teasing of "Temecula Sunrise."

On their hottest approximation of a pop jam ever ("Stillnesss Is the Move"), Amber sings, "On top of every mountain/There was a great longing/For another even higher mountain." To be sure, Longstreth is an artist concerned with outdoing himself. But it's when the lilting acoustic surprise of "Two Doves" reaches its (and, really, the album's) central lyric, "Don't confront me with my failure," that we get a sense of his simmering vulnerability. And that may well be the secret source of his powers.

DIRTY PROJECTORS + TV ON THE RADIO | House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | June 4 |www.houseofblues.com/boston

Related: Hard act to follow, Suite relief, Photos: Dirty Projectors and Vieux Farka Touré live at Somerville Theatre, More more >
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