CocoRosie was only ever meant to be a project that existed solely in their own circle of friends but, about a decade on from their debut album, La Maison De Mon Rêve, they keep coming back for more. Since that first record in 2004 they’ve put out three more full-length LPs (Noah’s Ark, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn and Grey Oceans respectively). They’ve come a long way since recording music in the bathroom of their Paris apartment and their number of fanbase is a lot larger than they probably ever imagined it would be. However, it’s easy to forget that CocoRosie have been given a harsh ride by some publications, much to the anger of their supporters (of which their most famous range from Nico Muhly to Yoko Ono and Annie Clark).
Newcomers might wonder initially why they attract such ire but it won’t take long for them to realise why. When listening to Tales Of A Grass Widow, it’s difficult to imagine how it is that they end up with these songs; all notions of traditional songcraft are tossed out of the window as they flip between organic sounds that provide atmosphere as well as subtle electronics. Both the Cassidy sisters, Sierra and Bianca, possess unique voices that are captivating to listen to, yet it should come as no surprise that sometimes it can be manipulated just as much as the
From the opening eerie distortion of ‘After The Afterlife’, they play with all sorts of ideas and textures as they can work their way through eleven offbeat tunes, some that have some truly beautiful melodies and others that contain some weirder moments. Not everything works but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of being magical. Among the highlights is ‘Tearz For Animals’, a collaboration with Antony Hegarty, a track that has both him and CocoRosie asking “Do you have love for humankind?” against a skittering beat, a booming yet subdued bassline and other sounds that have been sampled and re-worked.
As experimental as they often are, the core facts about CocoRosie have stayed the same for a number of years: they are artists that thrive on making challenging music. As such, especially with Tales Of A Grass Widow, it’s difficult to see the perception of them change dramatically. This will no doubt please the faithful but it has its fair share of accessible tracks to lure people into their mysterious world.
Words: Max Raymond