PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Coco Rosie: The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn

D.M. Edwards
COCO ROSIE [Photo: Samantha West]

Pop, eating itself and then throwing up and eating itself again. Sounds great? Not when verve and a trash aesthetic are lacking.


Coco Rosie

The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn

Label: Touch and Go
US Release Date: 2007-04-09
UK Release Date: 2007-04-08
Amazon
iTunes

It seems another lifetime since Coco Rosie's debut swooped onto an unsuspecting audience with all the weird grace of a slightly injured kestrel. La Maison de Mon Reve was soaked in so much indulgent charm that any flaws merely added to the allure. It pains me to say it, but sections of Ghosthorse and Stillborn land with all the welcome splat and pungency of pigeon shit.

Lest we forget, La Maison de Mon Reve was a hideously seductive perfume of cartoonesque pre-war blues, twee-hop, and chilled dollhouse opera. The sounds chimed and ticked in minimalist pop-folk delirium and the sisters spewed existential vomit, gloriously sweet as a childhood memory taken from someone else's photograph. It was as if a serpent of unknown origin, once housed in the belly of Lucille Bogan, had slithered across decades and deserts, over old bibles and rusted guitar strings, through assorted silky or lacy undergarments, was somehow borne across an ocean, to wind through cobbled streets, ascend Parisian plumbing, and emerge simultaneously in the bodies of sisters lolling unsuspectingly in the bath; thereby causing them to speak in the babbling tongues of women long disappeared from sweltering fields and glittering theatrical dressing rooms.

That their rhythmic incantations were called pretentious, and rumored to be made by trust fund recipients who couldn't recite half a dozen important events in the history of racial or gender liberation, mattered not one jot. Just as it was of no consequence that they had little to say, that one of them didn't so much sing as utter a catlike screech, and the arrangements verged not so much on the childlike as the fetal. Though purists muttered spuriously about authenticity, such churlishness was as that of wine drinkers going by the label not the taste. For through the steam emerged an admittedly wet but rather wonderful dream. Some tracks had all the quality of an answering machine message and, splendidly, were about as short. Less was more. All that was important was that it sounded great.

Even allowing for the presence of a time traveling reptile, it was sadly inevitable that they would be allowed to leave the bathroom. Doing so was arguably a mistake. It seems that the jittery snake of inspiration, as quickly as it entered, has slipped away into the welcoming sewers for pastures unknown. The sisters previously jabbered in a state of hypnotized derangement that, perhaps due to its intimacy, reeked of fundamental abandon. That debut resembled a happy accident of acoustics and domestic realignment pact wherein Coco Rosie's sound was clad only in whatever was to hand, which is why we were treated to percussion by metal belt. Their audio sketches in the low-budget equivalent of charcoal and cheap watercolor were little more than un-joined dots resounding with spontaneity and echoing with mystery. When the fever broke, though they remembered nothing of the serpent muse, their follow upNoah's Ark sounded to me like a hollow, unfocused, over produced mess.

In 2006 with a new companion and under the banner of Metallic Falcons, the operatic sister headed into a metaphorical desert perhaps in search of the lost sweetness, with higher-profile pals like Devendra Banhart and Antony along to carry the luggage. Devendra's involvement might have brought a similar throwaway and formulaic feel as his disappointing and largely dreadful Cripple Crow. In the event though, while Desert Doughnuts was neither as sexy nor as sad as La Maison de Mon Reve, it is unlikely to enjoy the shelf-life of that little gem, and seemed a trifle wooden or over careful, it definitely marked a healthy hop, skip, and jump away from the disposable Noah's Ark.

So, this is Coco Rosie’s third attempt. Opener "Rainbowarriors" briefly reintroduces the belt as percussion but swiftly becomes an obnoxiously slick anthem suffering from an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach to production. There are even a few horse neighs thrown in for no good reason. I hope it is a #1 smash but a comb and paper version would have been much better. There are some clues that we are in the territory of Our Lord and this is main very plain in the turgid "Promise".

After “Bloody Twins” and “Japan” I could barely stand much more. Surprisingly, the middle section of this record offers genuine hope that Coco Rosie can recover and lift out of creative nosedive. "Sunshine" is a threadbare piece of twee nothingness that is more than bearable. Even better is the cut-price ethereality of “Black Poppies” which suggests to me that the sisters have died and the serpent has entered their grave (I assume they will be buried together) to invest them with the inspiration of necrophilia. It creaks like a coffin lid. There are splendid buzzes and phoned-in-from-beyond-the-cartoon-grave mutterings. Thelonious Chipmunk, if you will.

“Werewolf” is also excellent. This creepy tale, perhaps autobiographical, strongly hints at abuse of power, incest, a residue of pain, betrayal and defiance, and is splendidly framed by simple piano and driven by pseudo-religious rhythms. “Animals” hints at brilliance in the opera, bicycle bells, static and lazy beat yet doesn’t get there. “Houses” benefits from a tossed coin, piano, and the powerful operatic pipes at the disposal of one sister; currently underused, though possibly destined to reign triumphant one day. It's written by Devendra Banhart, if that matters to you. “Girl and the Geese” is pretty insipid and suffers due to the narrator’s ignorance of the singular of geese. The narrator is otherwise really rather excellent. Antony shows up briefly on the final track “Miracle”, a fittingly half-hearted finale to a half-hearted record.

Partly because the girls are far from conventional pip-ups, I would love to be wrong and for a series of worldwide mega smash hits to leap from Ghosthorse and Stillborn despite their often dreadful sense of fashion and design. It seems though, that what Coco Rosie does best is the equivalent of delivering handmade postcards to houses in a tiny village of narrow alleys and leafy avenues. When they did it on foot or on their tandem it was easy. Now they are doing it, metaphorically speaking, in Ferraris or Lincolns, which in theory can go faster but aren't designed for this terrain. The Spanish Armada had huge galleons but Sir Francis Drake sunk their invasion with his maneuverable fleet. If I could, I would either persuade them to stop disappearing up their own arses or just go ahead and push them further up and put us out of our misery. That may seem drastic and overblown, but I speak as someone who reveled in the bathtub subterranean gibberish of their debut. This new record has a genuinely hopeful and perhaps truthful center which drips with promise but elsewhere lacks excitement, eroticism, soul, humor, and breadth. Other than that, it's fine. If I’m not mistaken, there are powers at work outside the sisters, and painful autobiographical memories that must surface. I recommend spending as much time in the bath as the captain of the Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.