Friday, 27 September 2013

Album review: CocoRosie - Tales Of A GrassWidow

Highlights: After The Afterlife, Child Bride, End Of Time

 “After The Afterlife” is a great opening song, but what a perfect title. Tales Of A GrassWidow does indeed sound like pop music as heard after the afterlife. Which in a way is as good a description of CocoRosie as you are ever going to get. Other than that album cover.

They say it’s this band’s most accessible album, which probably doesn’t say much. The whole thing reminded me of Mary Hampton’s weird folk. If Mary was in a band, embraced modern sounds and, crucially, was even weirder... Tales Of A GrassWidow does make for an unsettling listen, but only initially and if you had previously spent too much time playing your favourite records on repeat. It’s intriguing, challenging, inventive music that has enough vocal and instrumental hooks to keep you engaged. These are all very out-there hooks, granted, but since when is that a bad thing? The Fall’s “Jetplane” is still my favourite 2013 song.   

The combination of male and female vocals is a major asset here. The girl’s classic freak-folk voice is interesting in a good way, but it might become grating over a whole album. Most of the songs are based on electronic pop/trip hop beats, and on top of that you hear twisted folk songs that can be both soulful (“Tears For Animals”) and really catchy (“End Of Time”). Lots of beautiful and intricate things going on here, like the classic piano of “Harmless Monster” or the uplifting flute of “Roots Of My Hair”. Some of it tries too hard and ends up somewhat uneventful, but overall the album is still a huge resounding yes.

Very artsy, but this is that rare case when artsiness is justified by substance. Also, many of us get stuck in our element for way too long, and that’s another reason to listen to CocoRosie: they challenge senses ignored by most other artists. They have songs, too.


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