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Dirty Projectors 

Bitte Orca (Domino)

Proving that summertime jams don't need to sound like they were regurgitated from ELO's back catalogue, Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca is definitely a breezy pop album, but a smart one. Trace this band's lineage back to cerebral art-rock musicians like Talking Heads, where playful experimentation doesn't overwhelm accessibility or become too painfully precious. There's a little Laurie Anderson in here too, especially in the vocal plays of band mastermind Dave Longstreth, who takes a step back and lets the voices of guitarist Amber Coffman and bassist Angela Deradoorian weave in and out, with fractured but pretty yelps. As Joel Plaskett recently taught us, three really is the magic number when it comes to vocal arrangements.

Longstreth isn't afraid to play with genres and a sound gelled with West African highlife, especially on the Afro-pop pleaser "Temecula Sunrise." (Although the same appropriation arguments against Vampire Weekend can be applied here.) Clean beats and American R&B control "Stillness Is The Move," before they're exchanged with gorgeous strings on "Two Doves." We're lucky to still have Dirty Projectors---the Brooklyn band had to cancel its Canadian dates after a horrific-sounding van accident last week, but all the band members are OK and will be around well after Bitte Orca is named to the year-end critics' lists.

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