CocoRosie – Grey Oceans

January 01, 1970

(Sub Pop)

CocoRosie’s latest effort, recorded mostly at a studio in Buenos Aires that the band discovered while
on tour a few years ago, celebrates the duality and fierce experimentalism that
permeates every song they write. Grey Oceans is chamber pop, electronic-tinged jazz standards, roughly hewn trip- and
hip-hop, and epic indie rock all at once. One of the great charms of the band
is sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady’s alternating and juxtaposing vocals, one
childishly and rakishly slurring her words like Billy Holiday channeling Bjork,
the other appealingly allowing her trained soprano to lead the way.


On Grey Oceans,
as on every other CocoRosie album, the songs veer wildly across the spectrum in
terms of sound and style, although they tend to sound like a really well
produced toy orchestra playing futuristic classical music. Here, “Smoky Taboo”
takes hints and cues from Indian raga, as tabla drums keep the pace underneath
the sisters’ vocal interplay. “Hopscotch” is buoyed by Argentine drummer Bolsa,
who turns the 1940’s-era jazz basis of the song into a light, skittering
drum-and-bass playground. The album’s title track settles comfortably into a
nicely arranged piano backdrop, a song that could easily be misconstrued as
traditional if it weren’t for the unique, creaking vocals and fascinating
lyrics about “littler kinder” and watching oneself as one watches TV.


There are no hooks, no noticeable handholds to grasp onto to
access these songs. Grey Oceans can be a difficult listen at times – not in a grating or discordant way, but
this is an album that won’t reward passivity. It’s well worth the effort,
though, as CocoRosie continues to push the boundaries of genre and convention
and forge their own musical path.


Standout Tracks: “Hopscotch,”
“Undertaker” JONAH FLICKER


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