Review Summary: A lo-fi masterpiece, but not for everyone.
Is there an act more divisive than Cocorosie in today's musical landscape? I don't think so; the band (comprised of two formerly estranged sisters, no less) are both loved and loathed in equal measure, often for the exact same reasons. These days they're known for their hip-hop tinged electronic folk-music, weird concoctions of songs with unpleasant, highly cryptic (read: nonsensical?) lyrics. So it's perhaps a surprise to most people who don't know their earlier work that their first album, La Maison De Mon Reve, is a calm, languorous, subdued affair, a world away from the crazy sound of say, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn. And it's probably a surprise to most people that despite almost being a black sheep among their LPs now, it's also bloody brilliant.
Yes, it's an absolutely smashing debut. Unlike their later albums, this first LP has a very romantic, nostalgic atmosphere. Bluesy, and yet still very modern sounding. There's no real way to describe what genre this album is in besides to use the broad term "folk"; the two sisters flirt with a few different genres, creating a woozy, timeless sound. For that matter the vocal performances here are stunning, and this is mostly due to the sense of chemistry we get between the two sisters. They both sing here with such honest emotion and verve, and it really stands to the album. On "Good Friday", one of the best tracks, they sing and whisper in between each other, almost like improvisation, creating a weirdly beautiful and touching mood, and on closing track "Lyla", they sing as though in trances. A special mention must go to the stunning "By Your Side"; disregard what initially seems like a horribly clichéd title and it becomes the best track here, as Sierra sings with such passion that it becomes genuinely touching. The lyrics too are very disarming, as she sings of a relationship where she'll "wear your black eyes/bake you apple pies". It's hard to tell if it's a desperate love song, or a commentary on spousal abuse, or some weird mix of the two, but it doesn't matter. It's stunning, breathtaking stuff.
I've only praised the album up to now but it has to be said, this is not very everyone, at least for those not willing to listen to it a few times. For one thing, the lo-fi recording is very noticeable, and while it certainly adds to the appeal it will put off a lot of people, and the sounds of toys and phones making noise behind several tracks might strike some as odd. Add to this Bianca's voice; her scratchy, untrained but highly emotive voice isn't as untamed or grating here as it is on other albums but it's gonna be a deal-breaker for many of the tracks here. The lyrics throughout, while initially innocent sounding, contain dark undercurrents that will probably clash with the sweet, familial sound for a lot of people. Finally, "Jesus Loves Me". I won't say too much, as it would be to ruin the sister's (admittedly, seemingly good) intentions, but it will offend some people.
Try and disregard these though when dipping into this album; you're listening to a stunning album beneath the scratchy, lo-fi veneer. Track after track here is a home run, from beginning to end. The sisters Cassidy have yet to outdo themselves with this record, and I really can't see them managing any time soon.
Best tracks: "Lyla", "Good Friday", "Madonna", "By Your Side"