Bitte Orca is a strange creature. The Dirty Projectors’ newest is like some kind of awkward yet beautiful bird, seemingly incapable of flight due to its Frankensteinian anatomy (displaced rhythms, off-kilter guitar picking, stretched-out vocal harmonies, and then there’s frontman/zookeeper Dave Longstreth’s voice — so pinched and trembling it sounds like affectation). And yet, the album soars anyway, high on its own joyful weirdness. It helps that, unlike previous (even weirder) DP releases, Orca finds Longstreth turning his plethora of musical ideas into actual songs before hitting “record” — handclappy opener “Cannibal Resource” and pseudo-dance-rocker “Stillness Is the Move” even have sections that resemble choruses. Exquisite acoustic ballad “Two Doves” courts convention even harder but is a much-appreciated (and flat-out lovely) mid-album breather before Longstreth looses his menagerie again. Obtuse yet oddly inviting, Bitte Orca may be tough to catch up to — even after repeat listens — but it’s a fun chase anyway.
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