Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #12 CocoRosie - Noah's Ark
Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#12 CocoRosie - Noah's Ark
Ahh, excellent! As we approach the top ten, I can start whipping out superlatives in good conscience (no more worrying about hyperexaggeration, which is without a doubt the clumsiest journalistic tactic to get your point across). It’ll be ten more days until we can declare an artist and an album the best of the decade, but it’s already time to start coaxing “freshest,” “smartest,” “darkest,” and other such absolutes from the usually-forbidden depths of the music critic’s big bag o’ words. We’ve already trotted out most calculated and most soulful; and now I’m proud to label CocoRosie’s Noah’s Ark the trippiest and most haunting release of the 2000s.
If it seems ambitious to award Noah’s Ark a double-whammy of absolutism, it’s worth noting that the former very much feeds the latter. At its core, the album centers around the state of being inwardly and personally broken, though perhaps not irreversibly. It’s not unique in this sense – any number of artists have taken the introspective angle, often to grimace-inducing ends (mainly because it’s harder to write a serious lyric than a lighthearted one). But CocoRosie layers so many strange elements over that base – like throwing twenty blankets on top of a rapidly suffocating person – that the muffled voice underneath twists into something warped and haunting. You know something is crying for help under there, and the more garbled the words become, the more urgent it seems.
I won’t go into the more obvious jilting elements of Noah’s Ark – Bianca Leilani’s distinct vocals and the strange samples / instruments manipulated in the background (animal noises, water droplets, etc). The devil – or devilish facial tic, at least – is in the details. The front end of the title track is most indicative of how finely tuned this disc really is – a front-of-the-throat, shaped-yet-shapeless cry loops thrice before cutting out, as if her vocal cords were pinched shut like a pressurized water hose. The particularly manner in which that vocal line cuts out seems to mimic the lack of communication that defines the sadness draped across the album, and the oddly-upbeat drum beat that follows it seems apparently oblivious to the voice breaking right next to it. You can’t teach that sort of evocative pairing; so many of these moments give me shivers on Noah’s Ark. It’s a sensation which hasn’t left me since I first heard this album.
Check back tomorrow for the next album! To see the full list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade, click here.
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