Album Review: The Dirty Projectors – Bitte Ocre [Domino]
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, the home of, well pretty much everyone involved with good American indie, The Dirty Projectors have made a bit of a name for themselves as avant garde song-smiths. The band seems to operate by the Mark E. Smith rule book i.e. one consistent member (Dave Longstreth) as the band’s lynchpin and various other band members shifting in and out of the group in a manner that reflects their multi-faceted music.
Despite it’s place as the Dirty Projectors’ eighth full-length, it is ‘Bitte Ocre’ that looks set to become the band’s magnum opus. The new album sees a gloriously fragmented approach to song-writing which allows the group’s multiple personalities to shine through in glorious Technicolor. However, a consistent style and range of instruments sees the music is confined to an extent. If music were birds, we’d be talking free-range organic chickens.
Lo-fi guitars, stuttering drums and Longstreth’s quivering vocal form the base upon which most tracks are built and this is augmented – as on album opener, ‘Canibal Resource’ – by harmony lines sung by Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle. Occasionally, when things get really wild, the Projectors stray into electro territory, the ladies take over lead vocals and things get a little bit calypso-disco (‘Stillness Is The Move’). All this avant garde fuck-withery means that when things do take a turn for the traditional, ala sunshine-folk number ‘Two Doves’, it offers a welcome respite from the aural workout.
The result is a soundscape, that whilst ever-changing, occasionally lacks variety and Longstreth’s nasal, slightly atonal vocal does get a bit much. The Dirty Projectors have succeeded in creating a sound somewhere between White Denim and Vampire Weekend, but they refuse to deliver the energy of the former, nor the pop-satisfaction of the latter. All-in-all though, this is high quality stuff. ‘Bitte Ocre’ is a bit of a whirlwind, constantly challenging and asking questions of the listener, yet rarely providing answers.
Written for 4or The Record.