Friday, May 1st, 2009

Dirty Projectors – Stillness Is The Move

Hot new indie favourites in “not exactly hot new Jukebox favourites” shocker…


Rodney J. Greene: Art-pop comfortable and adept in drawing from the works of such modern avant-minimalist composers as Christopher “Tricky” Stewart. The vocals fittingly sound like a hybrid of Bjork and Aaliyah.

Alex Macpherson: What kind of Björkery is this? A poor kind, as it turns out: lyrics about being alive under a crazy sun or whatever, sung in a grating, faux-cutesy, out-of-tune yelp by some chick who apparently didn’t bother to listen to the arrangement before ploughing ahead with her vocals. (Who can blame her, though, with that “idiosyncratic” backbeat annd incredibly off-putting trebly bibbles.) Difference is, Björk’s genius lies in how she somehow pulls together a load of disparate or discordant elements into a coherent whole. This lot get the discordant constituent parts right, but in their hackish hands it’s just a pointless, rambling mess.

Martin Skidmore: Over the last several years, many acts have offered answers to the question “What if Bjork couldn’t sing?”, and here is the latest. There are some sort of cute backing vocal frills in parts, but otherwise it is immensely tedious.

Jordan Sargent: If anyone in indie rock has the right to act like a diva it’s Amber Coffman, the lead singer with the Def Jam-worthy pipes on “Stillness is the Move”. Her voice is as powerful as it is feathery and she’s in total control of its power, and when she goes full Mariah at the song’s end it’s pretty stunning. The fact that she does it all over a stilted, juking track makes it even more incredible.

John M. Cunningham: Dirty Projectors have made waves this year by aligning indie’s current affection for African guitar rhythms with R&B-inspired boy-girl vocals, but every time I’ve listened to Bitte Orca, its thorniness has made me want to put on either Vampire Weekend or the underrated No Kids (who don’t mimic Mariah’s ululations but do steal Amerie’s bass lines). Still, “Stillness Is the Move” is one of the band’s better cuts, with a rickety cyclical structure that keeps all those chirps and coos from floating too high.

Ian Mathers: Too stiff to actually groove (though lord, it struggles to), too spangled with Talking Heads-style faux-African guitars for the mawkish string coda not to seem bathetic, no chorus, decent voices but horrible lyrics (especially the middle bit that starts with the godawful “Isn’t life under the sun just some crazy, crazy, crazy dream?”), no sense that it’s going anywhere; it’s tempting but unfair to say that this song is everything wrong with what used to be indie rock, circa 2009.

Hillary Brown: Ever on the uptick, even though this really doesn’t have a strong melodic line but more just some pleasing noodling around full of strings and chirps. It’s the kind of thing that requires patience, and not all of us have that.

Dave Moore: Shakes and rattles, and the singer’s weak vocals are actually kind of sweet, but of course it plods along about three minutes too long. Still, considering that for some reason I’ve always thought that Dirty Projectors were one of those And thee Stars Turned Themselves Upward to Infinity So the Children Could Stare-type instrumental post-rock bands, a third of this song is a pleasant surprise.

10 Responses to “Dirty Projectors – Stillness Is The Move”

  1. I’m kinda glad I stayed out of this fray, even if I would’ve bumped up the score some (had I thought of something to say besides OMG SO GOOD HATERS ARE NUTZZZ).

  2. Perhaps I should play this again: I didn’t notice any African influence, and I love loads of African music. I’m also shocked by the Mariah comparisons – I’m far from being the fan that the Lex is, but, um, Mariah can actually sing.

    Nice to see Ian joining me and the Lex in the anti-indie camp on this one!

  3. Ha, yeah, Ian’s score was a bit of a surprise for me, since I was under the impression that most ex-Stylus staffers looooved Dirty Projectors; at any rate, now that we’re an independent entity, they can suck it!

  4. This is pretty good. She can sing.

  5. Fwiw, I hadn’t heard or even really heard about them before. I only knew of them as a name I’d seen.

  6. Well, John, I did download Bitte Orca but was incredibly underwhelmed by it – I may not agree with 99% of what lex writes (which isn’t the same as disagreeing on what songs are good), but these days I don’t tend to be a fan of much in the indie rock camp either.

  7. I do like her voice, and I wavered between putting “weak” and “girlish” vocals when neither are exactly what I mean and both are too negative (what the hell do I mean?), but “Def Jam worthy pipes” and Mariah were a surprise!

  8. yall are ~crazy~. this isn’t the best song on “bitte orca” by a longshot, but she can definitely sing. i implore the haters to listen to “two doves” and re-evaluate their stances on her technical ability

  9. gah i’m an idiot, the “two doves” vocalist is angel deradoorian, not amber coffman, who’s the “stillness” singer.

  10. I can’t believe that some of the reviewers think she has a weak voice.. Seems this band is love-or-hate no matter how ‘accessible’ and catchy they try and make it.