CocoRosie Put The Shine On Marathon Artists
CocoRosie’s divisiveness has always been at the centre of conversations about the American freak-folk sister duo. There’s the tone-deaf levels of African American cultural appropriation – despite both sisters being white – their often affected vocals, and their tendency to flip to embarrassing nursery rhyme rapping without warning.
If you can get past the aforementioned faux pas, some of Bianca and Sierra Cassidy’s previous six studio albums do have redeeming qualities: the pair are able to pen genuinely catchy pop melodies and create vivid atmospheres with their diverse instrumentation (they’ve been known to use harps, wind instruments and even children’s musical toys).
Put the Shine On, their latest full-length release, has some of these qualities, but doubles down on everything that’s grating about the band. Warbling trip-hop ballad Did Me Wrong reaches new peaks of inanity with lyrics like “Paddywhack/ Paddycake/ What’s my little baby’s fate?” There’s also Hell’s Gate that bewilderingly lifts elements from traditional slave song: “From the cracking of the whip/ Nanny worked down at the shop/ Lived in Hell’s Gate”. These misguided experiments are the only breaks from Sierra’s default vocal stylings – somewhere between Björk and Joanna Newsom – but falling short of either, plunging into gimmick.
A rare success is the woozy, hypnagogic ballad Slow Down Sun Down, which echoes The xx or Easter’s most weightless tracks. But the contrast between CocoRosie’s successful moments and their shortcomings points to their main issue: an unwillingness to employ any kind of quality control, and a tendency to lean into quirkiness that feels wilfully self-indulgent. Seven albums in, this seems unlikely to change.