Review Summary: A frustrating, but fun third outing for the sisters.
Well, here's a turn up for the books. After two largely placid sounding albums, the Cassidy sisters turn out a record so eccentric and genre-defying it's barely even classifiable. Gone are the woozy half-raps and lo-fi musings about racism and spousal abuse, and gone is the familial atmosphere that permeates La Maison and Noah's Ark; in their places are eccentric 00's hip-hop beats, full on rap-attacks and lines like "If you look hard you can find a/Rainbow trail it's deep inside ya!". It's to be expected though. Cocorosie couldn't rest on that sound for two albums, let alone three, nor could they rest on their famous back-story to add weight to their music.
This time around they let their music do the talking only, and it works, sort of. It sounds kind of like a debut album from a completely different band that haven't quite worked out what they want to be, so they sample just about everything they can. This approach doesn't work completely but it does lead to a few satisfying tracks. Opener "Rainbowarriors" has a hummably lovely melody over a layer of hip-hop beats, whinnying horses and coarse-sounding synths, and through sheer madness and vitality, it succeeds. Similarly, "Japan" is a slightly bonkers rap with a near-reggae sounding accompaniment, and features overeager vocal performances, a catchy chorus and kooky sound effects, not to mention a very abrupt operatic interlude. It wins you over with its sheer oddness.
Despite the few good tracks though, too much of the album feels like hard work, wading through garish genre-exercises and difficult lyrics. The hip-hop theme more often than not feels too prominent in some tracks, and at times seems like it's only there to try and transcend genres; this isn't helped much by the fact this sound is as generic as it gets in terms of production, feeling more tacked on than truly a part of the music. The buzzing, minimalist synthesizer in "Promise" is laughably out of place and really feels like an afterthought, as does the beat on "Raphael" that feels at odds with that track's delicate harp line. Similarly on tracks like "Black Poppies" and "Bloody Twins" they sound like they're trying way too hard to create something unusual sounding, and it comes across as self conscious and awkward. It's not a surprise that the two best tracks here, "Sunshine" and "Werewolf" are the best because they're relatively subdued. The latter in particular is wonderfully pretty, with a slow beat that's not overplayed, a wonderful chorus and a great rap put in by Bianca.
It's certainly no masterpiece, but Cocorosie's third album is a charming one, for mostly all the right reasons. Had they spent a bit more time taming and refining the production, they might have had a really brilliant album; as it is, it's mostly fairly appealing, and certainly an improvement over Noah's Ark.
Best tracks: "Sunshine", "Japan", "Werewolf"