the Sea and Cake, Dirty Projectors | Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Mon., June 22, 6:30 p.m. 2009
A lot of things annoy me about New York’s Dirty Projectors, or rather about bandleader Dave Longstreth. He favors an irritatingly loopy, falsetto-heavy singing style so thickly ornamented with cloying curlicues it’s enough to make your teeth ache. On the back cover of the group’s new album, Bitte Orca (Domino), he’s gazing into the eyes of Nietzsche, and in a recent New York Times interview he insinuated that the complexity of his work puts him in the company of William Blake, John Coltrane, and Richard Wagner. I hadn’t been able to stomach any of Dirty Projectors’ music till I heard Bitte Orca, whose bald ambition and surfeit of ideas impressed me enough that I gave the band a second chance. The tune that pulled me in was “Stillness Is the Move,” sung by guitarist Amber Coffman: it sounds like a warped strain of pop R & B, as though Mariah Carey were accompanied by Deerhoof playing a stripped-down instrumental. All the best songs on Bitte Orca are equally counterintuitive. Some are noisy and abrasive, others smooth and funky, and the confounding arrangements thoughtfully combine chamber-music influences with almost proggy grooves. Bubbly, fluid electric-guitar lines and clustered polyrhythms jostle against blocks of choirlike vocals and elaborate melodies that often seem to move independently of the rest of the band—and for the most part the warm, ultraprecise singing of Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle balances Longstreth’s excesses on the mike. He’s undeniably a bit pompous, but he’s got the talent and drive to make records that are at least as fascinating as they are maddening. The Sea and Cake headlines. —Peter Margasak

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