Sean O’Neal at the Onion A.V. Club, on one of my favourite records of the year, Bitte Orca, and the decade that was:
There’s no better yardstick for measuring the artistic leaps and bounds of the past decade than with an evolutionary chart of “New York buzz bands” spanning The Strokes to Dirty Projectors. We kicked off the decade stoked on purist, backward-looking rock ’n’ roll; we ended it debating 3/2 time signatures and throwing around heretofore-alien terms like “kwassa kwassa picking” and “vocal hocketing.” And even though the current obsession with over-intellectualizing pop music will inevitably give way to another minimalist revolt, Bitte Orca proves that just because an album is slightly pretentious in its construction doesn’t mean it has to be joyless. Sometimes it can be a ragged, fascinating mess even when it’s planned to an inhuman degree, and sometimes genre mash-ups that resemble the Icarus-like overreaching of music-comp majors (“We’ll start with West African-inspired guitar patterns, Timbaland beats, and cut-up harmonies that sound like live Steve Reich remixes, then make them into an R&B song!”) become visceral, throw-your-hands-in-the-air moments on record. Apparently we’ve learned a lot this decade.