Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble—that’s what Bianca Cassady sings like: as if she’s conjuring. But her lyrics aren’t Shakespeare. “Life is like a roller coaster,” she bleats on “Japan,” thus joining the ranks of the F.R.C.S.A., or Fellowship of Roller Coaster Simile Advocates.
So yeah, CocoRosie—Brooklyn’s Sierra and Bianca Cassady—are back with their increasingly inscrutable jams. Welcome to their world of toys: samples of pocket change; gauzy, or reedy, or insect-like synths; drum machines; obnoxious drum machines; some stoner dude talking; Bianca’s sing-speak cackle; opera ephemera. The songs on The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (yoy) mash all these together like cars crashing in a dense fog. Usually based on just three or four chords, they’re structured like hip-hop (the sisters are big fans), outfitting a repeated loop with motley bells and whistles. Where Lil Jon might say, “Okaaaay,” CocoRosie sample the bleep of an answering machine.
According to the (obnoxious) press materials, this record is supposed to be about some magical transatlantic journey, a road-trip movie directed by Matthew Barney. But I don’t hear that. What I hear are some ineffectual sonic finger painting and lyrics that revel in art-school juxtapositions: “In my heart a flower dies slow/Like a campfire covered in piss.” Such juxtapositions are CocoRosie’s bread and butter: They splash in the gutter, then play in the nursery. They’re lascivious, they’re juvenilely chaste; they’re musicians, they’re defiantly a-musical. Once they could juggle being both captivating and grating. Today, they’re just the latter.