There is a whole breed of baby-voiced women — Joanna Newsom, Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, and, to a lesser extent, Bjork — whose singing style suggests that of a tiny girl stranded on an amusement park ride. When the creepy/cutesy effect works, it's stunning, and when it doesn't, it can just be grating. That can definitely be said of CocoRosie, comprised of sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady, whose third album, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn, hit stores this week.
In keeping with the nursery-rhyme-sounding title, CocoRosie's childlike trip-hop mixes tinkling music-box melodies with silly animal sounds, operatic singing, and other quirky aural effects. For more on my take and to hear one of my favorite tracks,
When the eclectic elements come together well — as on the playful yet hard-edged "Rainbowarriors" — the music will stimulate your imagination and your urge to dance. But while I admire CocoRosie's tendency toward experimentation, other songs on Ghosthorse just got on my nerves.
The sisters certainly don't need cuteness to carry their songs, so sometimes, I wish they'd just take it down a notch. For instance, the booming timpani percussion and opera singing on "Japan" are incredibly novel, but after a while, the repetitive baby-talk lyrics become as irritating as a 5-year-old would tugging repeatedly on your sleeve.
Thankfully, CocoRosie gives us an occasional respite from the hyperactive fairy-tale vibe. "Miracle," featuring haunting guest vocals from Antony and the Johnson's Antony, is so slow and languid it nearly comes to a full halt, but the effect is surprisingly beautiful. In fact, the same could be said for the entire album, which is well worth a listen despite its flaws.