CocoRosie - Tales Of A Grasswidow (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THE latest album from sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady – aka CocoRosie – is, by turns, weird and wonderful.
At times ethereal, at others enchanting, the LP continues to subvert pop expectations and will likely polarise newcomers to the CocoRosie sound. Some may find it unstructured and infuriating. Others may greet it like a breath of fresh air given the processed nature of the mainstream sound.
If we’re being honest, we fall somewhere in between. For while there are some great moments here, there are also those that are just plain obscure. Hence, we found ourselves toe-tapping and admiring one minute, and scratching our heads the next. It’s that kind of release. And it takes a few listens to properly decide where you stand on it.
The album is marked, in general, by Bianca’s high pitched vocals, which have a Bjork-like quality about them, as well as a fragility that’s somehow childlike and endearing. They are neatly juxtaposed on occasion by those of Sierra, who adopts a more classical voice.
Instrumentally, there’s shifting beats and electronic surges as a general bedrock, as well as pump organ, flute and harp to make you sit up and take a little more notice.
Tracks that work include opener After The Afterlife, which combines the ethereal with the almost theatrical, an innocent vocal announcing “welcome to the afterlife” in hypnotic fashion over some hypnotic piano chords, before the track suddenly drops a slick, electro-disco beat and proceeds to enthral.
The beats return in even more likeable fashion on Tears For Animals, another beautiful offering that manages to be thought-provoking in the way it ponders the central question of “do you have love for human-kind?” Again, the melancholy piano arrangements compliment the beats, while the central chorus whisps in and out like some ghostly [or higher] presence (with vocals supplied by Antony Hegarty).
It’s a shame the whole album cannot sustain such heights. But while tracks like Child Bride and Gravediggress really do work in providing something different and genuinely likeable, others such as Broken Chariot and Harmless Monster get lost amid the sisters’ more arty leanings.
Broken Chariot, in particular, is disruptive to the album’s smooth flow – it’s mix of sparse vocals and half-hearted flutes never gelling into a satisfactory whole and pulling you out of the experience, annoyingly so.
Harmless Monster does eventually yield some lovely piano arrangements but it takes too long in getting there.
Nevertheless, the album ends strongly with the cinematic Villain and an untitled hidden track ensuring that CocoRosie’s fifth LP is a fascinating oddity with pockets of genuine beauty.
Download picks: After The Afterlife, Tears For Animals, Child Bride, Gravedigress, Roots of My Hair, Villain, Untitled hidden track