COCOROSIE: The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn (Touch And Go Records)
The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn
Touch & Go Records 2007
12 Tracks. 41mins06secs
Buy it: CD | LP
CocoRosie | Touch And Go Records
Toy pianos and human beat boxes, tiny bells and music boxes, dragons and butterflies, the world of Coco and Rosie, or sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady, relies heavily on fantasy, dreams and coded imagery. It is therefore not much of a surprise that they asked French artists Pierre & Gilles, who themselves have developed a very personal sense of symbolism, to shoot the cover of their latest effort, and teamed up with Michel Gondry for the video of the first single to be taken off the album.
CocoRosie first emerged three years ago with a stunning debut album, La Maison De Mon Rêve. Recorded in the bathroom of their Parisian apartment during a rainy summer, the album, collating acidic lullabies and pop vignettes too clever to ever be played on the radio, was wonderfully chaotic and unpredictable. With their follow up, Noah’s Ark, released in 2005, the Casady sisters relied on much more ornate instrumentation and deployed some increasingly widescreen melodies and intricate soundscapes. To further embellish their delicate pop songs, they recruited the services of oddball popsters Antony and Devendra Banhart and French beatbox artist Spleen.
The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn sees the Casady sisters wrap their surreal poetry in slightly less opulent and rich draperies, relying on just a few sound sources for each song. This gives the album a more minimal tone, but it also shows off the pair’s ability to write incredibly dense little vignettes in a much clearer light. Recorded in Island with Björk collaborator and Bedroom Community head Valgeir Sigurðsson, this third opus is somewhat less obsessed with dreams and tales, but this is not to say that CocoRosie have abandoned their toy box pop for more mature musical forms. The sisters’ mix of vocal affectation and elegance is intact here and weights heavily on the overall performance. Sierra’s classically trained voice contrasts greatly with Bianca’s rawer tones, as she goes from soft whispers to little girl’s blabber. As the sisters play off each other, a strange dialogue develops which is carried all the way through without ever failing to intrigue and entertain.
The album opens with the hip-hop infused Rainbowarriors and Promise before the sisters turn to more subtle and delicate song structures with Bloody Twins, on which their voices appear tightly entangled with melody and arrangements, Sunshine, with its clear melodic theme, or the cinematic Houses and Raphael. Elsewhere, CocoRosie playfully assemble pop songs out of minimal sound sources. On the magnificent Japan, the sisters voice their concern with political and social issues (‘everyone wants to go to Iraq / but once they go, they don’t come back / bringing peanut butter jelly and other snacks / we might have our freedom but we’re still on crack’) , while Sophia Lauren, orphans and baby dinosaurs cross paths on Animals. On the closing Miracle, Antony provides a delightful counterpoint to the acerbic verve of Casady sisters and brings this collection of imaginary pop songs to a rather stylish close.
While The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn isn’t quite as flamboyant, dense and dreamy as Noah’s Ark, Sierra and Bianca Casady continue here to craft wonderfully evocative poetic pop songs and subtle adult lullabies. If their work gains maturity, it still bears the touching innocence and naivety that made them so fascinating in the first place.