CocoRosie – Noah’s Ark (Rogue/Inertia)


When a number of friends saw Antony & the Johnsons recently at the Sydney Festival, they independently mentioned afterwards that while Antony wasn’t bad, the support act was more amazing, and amazingly weird. That was CocoRosie, two sisters playing an array of makeshift instruments along with laptop and vocals. Clearly they made a big impression, yet on first listen it’s hard to see why.
There are certainly some lovely songs on it. But Antony’s presence on a couple of songs is a little misleading – not because it’s not his kind of music, but rather because so much of the album is no less middle-of-the-road than his own stuff, and much of it has the same almost-gospel aspect, excessive vibrato and all (hello Devendra!). Partly this is a problem of expectations; after all, plenty of people would think I’m insane for calling something like “Beautiful Boyz” MOR – it’s got sampled noises for percussion, and an excellent howling siren crescendoing through the latter part.
With one voice recalling Joanna Newsom and the other a trained opera singer, this isn’t the recipe for mainstream appeal. What keeps CocoRosie accessible is that it’s indubitably about the songs and not the weird production or sonic exploration. In terms of experimentalism, Tom Waits comes to mind rather than Tunng or Mùm. And the key to understanding CocoRosie was, for me, to realign my expectations of their music as singer-songwriter rather than weird outer-limits stuff. Heard in that context, the weirdness is quite endearing.
Even so, this album is pleasurable and irritating in equal amounts. The songs are too samey, the vocals off-putting, and the strangeness never quite takes off the way one wishes it would.


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Radio broadcaster - Utility Fog on FBi. Cellist - FourPlay String Quartet. Web administrator, editor, reviewer, sporadic blogger, science fiction fan, bicycle rider...