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CocoRosie: La Maison de Mon Rêve

 
CocoRosie
La Maison de Mon Rêve

To be straight-forward about it, there are a number of things that one might dislike about CocoRosie's La Maison de Mon Rêve. Sound quality-wise, much of the album sounds like it was recorded about 100 years ago, only with more background noise; one of the songs repeatedly makes use of "the N word," a musical taboo outside of rap albums and controversial even in rap; some of the vocals are outrageously cartoonish; and domestic abuse is made light of in an ode to being a housewife.

On the other hand, these problematic things may attract listeners instead of pushing them away. The noise, although somewhat distracting at first, is often interesting and doesn't come off as we're-too-cool-for-normal-instruments pretension. The racial slur is used in a song called "Jesus Loves Me," a sarcastic twist on issues of love and acceptance. Balancing out the cartoonish vocals of songs like "Tahiti Rain Song," the vocals on other songs, like "Good Friday," are strikingly beautiful. "By Your Side," the song featuring the lyrics, "I'd wear your black eyes/bake you apple pies," might catch a listener off-guard, but it's a thought-provoking take on domesticity.

Bianca and Sierra Casady, the sisters who are CocoRosie, bring to the album dissimilar backgrounds. Sierra studied classical opera singing; Bianca has no professional singing training. After some time apart, the American sisters somehow ended up living in a small Paris apartment together and writing and recording music. Sierra's interest in gospels and spirituals is evident throughout the album. "Jesus Loves Me" is one example of this. Another is "By Your Side," an old-sounding song that takes on a neo-soul sound with the addition of an electronic beat.

Both sisters sing on the album, and Sierra plays the guitar and flute while Bianca sings and does percussion, or, as their press release puts it, "rattles things, makes things squeak, shakes a gold chain belt." Many of the noises are difficult to identify and some can't be identified at all. Sound effects include recordings of a rooster crowing, sirens, and waves crashing against the shore, and many of the beats sound as if they were created using a cheap children's toy. Behind the whimsical production, however, lie serious issues, from racism to religion to underage prostitution.

Unfortunately, the songs on the second half of the album are not as interesting as those that come early on. "Madonna," which introduces the listener to a cigar-smoking mother-of-Christ, is no match for the Rilke-influenced "Terrible Angels," while "Lyla," a song about a Yugoslavian child prostitute, doesn't make the same impact as "By Your Side."

CocoRosie would never make it on American Idol, and they will never win an award for political correctness, but if you can look past their unusual voices and perverse lyrics, these two sisters have created an intriguing work of art.

Natalya Minkovsky

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