They could be conjoined twins. One swathed with rose petals and romance movies, spraying sugar-sweet melodies in the air like the perfume of lost lovers. The other a croaking and callous femme fatale, feeding your ears false sweet nothings behind a bluesy summer-evening strum, sending you mixed messages; leading you on and letting you go. Both sharing the same withering heart.
CocoRosie both unnerve and bewitch in equal measure. Though their melodies may tickle with ethereal understatement and their words whisper and moan with quaint submissiveness, throughout their debut, these sisters manage to fill each musical crevice with traces of the unsettling and subversive. From its haunted lo-fi recording and funereal, paceless languor through to their tendency to line each track with the cackle of static, La Maison De Mon Reve is a record that always manages to keep you at arms-length – wary of the dirt beneath the fingernails of its feigned sweetness.
Reimagining 70’s folk as if it were influenced by the barbed blues of Billie Holliday and not the fey whimsy of Sandy Denny, the words on this record are less lyrics and more misanthropic mantras, repeated and re-sung while a stream of echoes and effects bubble endlessly beneath them. Emulating the cackle of 50’s vinyl, the acerbically ironic wiry blues of Jesus Loves Me sheds the words “Jesus loves me but not my wife, not their nigger friends or their nigger lives,” causing the same kind of shock as hearing a six-year-old say “shit.” If only Jack White was as capable of producing such a blatant attack on the white man’s hypocritical hijacking of black music.
Elsewhere, there are bum notes, looped samples, synthetic drum sounds and endless moments of shy, fumbling sweetheart beauty. Terrible Angels poses the question “if every angel’s terrible, why do you welcome me? _” above a clumsy plucked chord progression; _By Your Side pledges a life of dutiful devotion to its subject’s obsession (“I’ll scrub your floors, never be a bore, I’ll tuck you in, I do not snore”) and Lyla aches like a just-discovered jazz song sung by two lovestruck teenagers.
Though the songs are childlike and amateurish, and the musicianship non-existent, this enchanting record not only serves the kind of flawed and fascinating sonic palate that most acoustic troubadours would run a mile from, but it also hands the listener the kind of emotional complexity that consists of Real Life - a fraying thread between light and dark, romance, loss and nihilism. For that, Le Maison De Mon Reve stands as one of the most intriguing records you’ll hear this year.
An aural venus fly-trap, CocoRosie will tease you in, chew you up and spit you out – leaving you as confused and answerless as ever. But by the end of this album’s blissful forty minutes, you’ll only find yourself crawling back for more.
8Neil Robertson's Score