Operation Teardrop is indie panache mixed with pretty much whatever Rittling wants. The whub of dance pulse, the march of a fanfare – it doesn’t matter to him if they’re in the same song or if they’re followed by a back-river folk tune. Operation Teardrop touches many musical styles but stays true to the heart – a heart beating for the finer things in life a la elegant piano and jangly art-pop.
Rittling's voice captures attention immediately. He sounds like a singer I used to play with, that trademark rasp coarse with emotion. I would bet that Rittling has more control and technique as my guy had to force it and will probably have throat issues later in life. That rasp swaps out with gritty croons from time to time and always sounds full of experience. Rittling evokes a time well before his years as if the stories being told were from the mouth of an aged man.
Rittling sings with a purposeful reserve, never flashy. Rather than write or try to find passages for chops, he uses his voice as part of the larger picture of sound. “Begin” has a delightful array of synth bubbles that float the surface before bursting into gentle brightness. The backing vocals at the middle section are nothing short of effortlessly cheery. You can’t help but feel the lightness in this song.
However, Rittling's curiosity gets the better of him on a couple of tracks. "Giraffe" for instance features awkward rapping that alternates with sung sections. I’ll award points for confidence, but this song never quite grabs ahold of itself and instead drifts like a confused bird. Rittling redeems himself on "Milkshake" a catchy tune that builds into something out of the old malt shoppe.
Rittling's own artistic daring and creativity sail and sink the ship in my opinion. There are some great moments and some dull ones. Not a complete mixed bag, but not highlighted enough for limited track skipping. Like a Starburst pack with only a few pinks if you know what I mean. There are some really strong tracks here, but the album is not bigger than the sum of its parts.
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