If anyone would like an introduction to CocoRosie, let’s go the whole hog. Not for us the soft and easy opening bars of ‘Villain’, which sounds for few seconds – just a few mind you – as though they’ve done a Tegan and Sara, and gone all polished (it doesn’t last). No, instead jump straight into ‘Poison’, the 18 minute final track on their new album Tales Of A Grasswidow. 3 minutes 43 seconds of atmospheric burbling loveliness, their regular contributor and collaborator Antony Hegarty half veiled in the distance of the sound stage, the story of a merciless dictator who sits on zebra skins and drops poisonous tears. What a bitter woman. But wait – the track then continues with precisely ten minutes of silence before we are woken from our reverie by someone banging enthusiastically on the contents of a primary school classroom’s worth of instruments. Ow, my ears! Glad to hear they’ve not gone mainstream then.
Actually I’m being unfair, but we might as well get rid of the easy listening brigade right now. For the rest of us, it’s time to once again immerse yourself in the weirdly beautiful hypnosis of Bianca and Sierra Casady’s world. Given that we’ve got the mechanics of the thing out of the way, it’s time to talk about what matters, and that’s the mood of the piece. There’s yearning melancholic tristesse all over this. The “grasswidow” of the title is a mistress (some would say a sad place to be to start with) left abandoned by her lover, out to grass. Then have your heart strings toyed with by the wind-chimes leading into that familiar sound shuffle that fronts up ‘Gravediggress’. ‘Tears For Animals‘ anyone? As for the video for ‘After The Afterlife’, I know I’m a sucker for cheap pathos, but I can hardly bear to watch it.
I’m not overstating the strength of the emotions this has aroused in me – all of which is very strange indeed given the upbeat message that Bianca has sent along with the record-
“We are burning with optimism,” she asserts. “I feel a global awakening to the realization that we have been comfortable in a social prison for thousands of years. We, women and men, oppressed by patriarchal views and systems with religions who despise women. You can find the phrase “Eve The Whore” in almost every western language. It rolls off the tongue without a second thought, without acknowledging how Religions have blamed women and their bodies and their sex on the fall of ‘man’.” Oh, OK, maybe it was upbeat before we started talking about aeons of wrong done to women. I’m not being dismissive, I’m 100% with them on this one, religion as social control and a means of maintaining male dominance. I wonder what makes them think it’s about to change anytime soon. Oh darn, they’ve gone and done it haven’t they? Got me banging on about sexual politics when I’m supposed to be reviewing a record: maybe that was their intent all along.
So let’s cut to the chase. This is like Marmite boiled down and distilled to its very essence. If you’re not someone who likes Marmite, one listen and you’ll be throwing up on the spot. On the other hand, if you are, well come on in then, welcome to your drug of choice for the next few months of your life. It’s CocoRosie and it’s beautiful.