Few acts in recent memory have nimbly nudged their way to the front of the folk flock with a more interesting back story than Brooklyn, by way of Paris, duo CocoRosie. Glazing a curious, prizewinning tale to a turtle wax shine, almost every review, column, and interview concerning the cryptic Coco Casady sisters have touched on their story of years spent in unwelcome estrangement, and the unforeseen reunion in the perfectly cobbled streets of Paris back in 2004 (add this review to the list…).
Now, nearly five years, and three albums later, the time should finally be ripe to bring the tumultuous, yet ultimately fortunate chapter in the sisters’ lives to a close. With a highly anticipated new record, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (Touch and Go), ambitiously expanding Coco’s sound into celibate genres, critics and fans should finally find a reason to lose themselves in the bizarre, European motifs the Casadys have boldly staked their remarkable music on. Obsessing themselves less with guitar chords, and more with rhythm and backbeat, the now tripnotic duo shed their folk cred…in a good way. Opener “Rainbow Warriors” is ravishly radio ready. “Promise” nudges as close to straight up hip hop as the sisters have ever come. And odd ball “Japan” treks around the world to smoky, reggaeton stylings. The music still sounds born of the cluttered, haphazard playrooms of their childhood. But, this time around, the wheezy vocals and delicate combination of sampled complexities… animal themed alarm clocks, klutzy music boxes, chiming bells and whistles, and toy gadget glitches…come pouring out dance hall speakers.
And yet, as fascinating as the record is, the circumstances that ripped CocoRosie apart in one place, and brought them back together in another, still sound as fresh and relevant as ever. Ghosthorse and Stillborn are Sierra and Bianca, and the album explores their relationship with one another. On record, Sierra sounds poised and proper, classically trained, accomplished, and strikingly powerful. Bianca proves edgy and modern; a scrappy poet willing to lay down her pen and draw a sword if need be. Can the same be said about the two in life? That I can’t say. But tracks like “Werewolf” and “Animals” certainly drop hints that, underneath the musical façade, the recorded character differences between the two women might be the result of their real life, topsy-turvy past. - David Pitz