Bitte Orca, the newest album from Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors, is downright parasitic: It's an album composed of often noxious components that is deftly able to worm its way into the listener's heart. With its nonsense title, frontman David Longstreth's vocal hiccups and complicated guitar figures oscillating from prickly to dizzying, the album is a vexing initial listen. Those willing to put in the effort, however, will discover an album of slinking, hypnotic appeal.
Although Longstreth—who has a music degree from Yale—is the band's brain trust, Amber Coffman (vocals, guitar) and Angel Deradoorian (vocals, bass, keyboard, guitar) are responsible for two of the finer moments on Bitte Orca. The Coffman-fronted "Stillness Is the Move" highlights her angelic, fluttery vocals as they weave around and soar over jangly guitar, cracking drums and electronic hums. Meanwhile, "Two Doves" coasts on Deradoorian's melancholy vocals shrouded in acoustic guitar arpeggios and looming, peaking violins.
Still, this is Longstreth's project, and he gamely synthesizes his art-house, workhorse ethos with DIY appeal. The sunny opener, "Cannibal Resource," swirls between his blithe vocals and twitchy guitars; "The Bride" finds great tension between gossamer verses and meaty choruses; and closer "Fluorescent Half Dome" coolly balances Talking Heads' R&B and Afro-pop tendencies.
At nine songs, Bitte Orca has little room to fail. Its complex, personality-disordered tunes are bound to aggravate plenty, but beneath its adrenalized veneer is a surprisingly affecting pop album with serious staying power.