(2 out of 5)
Note to Dave Lonstreth: Dude, we get it. The indie-rock world genuflects at your feet as you bestow upon us your clearly advanced lyrical cleverness and haphazardly thread your multiple – and perfectly curated – musical influences throughout your music. We get it, Dave, you’re smarter and more well-rounded than we are, so now can you please get down to the business of making the record we’re all waiting for you to make? BITTE ORCA, despite the inevitable praise of the indie twitterati, is not that record. There are moments – like on the twisting, jam-folk drama of “The Bride,” the soulful weirdness of “No Intention” and the simply beautiful closing track (“Fluorescent Half Dome”) – that this album comes close to realizing Lonstreth’s promise as a quirky, gifted songwriter. Yet, for most of the rest of BITTE ORCA, all that promise is subsumed by multiple and superfluous tempo changes and sliced-and-diced, off-kilter harmonies that are as jittery as they are grating. From the opening barrage of bizarro bombast called “Cannibal Resource,” right through the messy melange of African choruses and twee-pop melodies of “Remade Horizon,” Lonstreth continually pushes the listener out of his musical world. The end result is an album that’s neither fish nor fowl; BITTE ORCA isn’t avant-garde enough to truly chart an original and provocative course for indie rock, and isn’t consistently engaging enough to make up for its artistic shortcomings. Ultimately, it’s an album that’s annoying because of the way it sounds, and because of the promise it fails to live up to.