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Dirty Projectors: Balancing Head And Heart

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Dirty Projectors: Balancing Head And Heart

Dirty Projectors: Balancing Head And Heart

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, a review of some music that is not easy to categorize. Dirty Projectors is an experimental rock band with influences that range from early vocal music to modern R&B to punk rock.

Critic Will Hermes thinks the band's new album, "Bitte Orca," is a breakthrough.

(Soundbite of song, "Cannibal Resource")

WILL HERMES: It's been about 30 years since the CBGB's era, since New York City has had a really vital rock scene, but they've sure got one now. Albums by Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear have already been flagged as two of this year's best. And I think another adventurous young band with Brooklyn roots, Dirty Projectors, has made a third.

(Soundbite of song, "Cannibal Resource")

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Look around at everyone, everyone look alive and waiting. Oh, oh, oh. Oh, oh, oh. The wind is up, the stars are out. The sun is calm, the light is fading. Oh, oh, oh. But we are...

HERMES: Dirty Projectors' records can be playfully high concept. They include a song cycle whose storyline somehow involves Eagles singer Don Henley and a highly abstracted remake of the LP "Rise Above" by '80s punk rockers Black Flag. But "Bitte Orca," a name the band chose mainly because they liked the sound of it, is more straightforward.

It focuses on voices. The band has four of them, three female and one male. And while parts are influenced by modern R&B, the arrangements are far different.

The single "Stillness Is the Move," for example, strikes me as a bit like Destiny's Child teaming up with Talking Heads.

(Soundbite of song, "Stillness Is the Move")

Ms. AMBER COFFMAN (Vocalist, Dirty Projectors): (Singing) After all that we've been through, I know that I will without you from now until forever, baby. I can't imagine anything better. After all that we've been through, I know we'll make it another way. The question is it true...

HERMES: I've enjoyed the other records by Dirty Projectors, but sometimes, they seem too eager to show off their smarts. Their latest doesn't over-think, or rather, over-thinks just enough to balance head and heart. The mix of tart strangeness and melodic sugar in their vocals reminds me of how much depth the best pop acts bring to their art, and it makes me hope that Dirty Projectors are in it for the long haul.

(Soundbite of song, "Temecula Sunrise")

Mr. DAVE LONGSTRETH (Vocalist, Dirty Projectors): (Singing) Up in the light of the high Temecula sunrise.

SIEGEL: Our reviewer is Will Hermes. The new album from Dirty Projectors is called "Bitte Orca." You can listen to songs from the album at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Temecula Sunrise")

Mr. LONGSTRETH: (Singing) High Temecula sunrise.

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