The band isn’t playing catch-up against a nonexistent reputation; they expect the record to speak for itself. And it certainly does. Every song is catchy and immediately enjoyable while not noisy.
Yes, Lady Gaga’s music as presented on The Fame Monster is still “unoriginal,” but it’s no longer uninspiring. It is a facsimile of various trends and sounds in popular music, from the ’80s to 2009, sometimes even stretching all the way back to the ’60s. But pop music isn’t about originality.
Longstreth is not a brilliant visionary, but he has created a masterpiece to the extent that he is capable. Bitte Orca is either deliberately frustrating or frustratingly deliberate, but in any case, it’s worth a listen. Or two. Or three.
This is a band at the heights of its powers, fully in command of its sound and its creative process, unafraid to try basically anything.
Everything on Veckatimest, from the loftiest harmony to the subtlest string pluck, serves a purpose, even if there’s room for a little more.