CocoRosie, Tales of a GrassWidow, City Slang
Tales of a GrassWidow is a further rumination on the direction the world is hell bent on from the Casady sisters, CocoRosie. Their preceding album, 2010’s Grey Oceans, took an oblique look at the pollution of our seas and was awash with alienation. This album is a hurdy gurdy of a gently delivered polemic pondering on abuse of children and the Earth. “Do you have love for humankind?” they ask, and delicately demand that we “stop the slaughter of our daughters;/ poisoning the waters” in ‘Tears for Animals’.
The call and response of the sisters is as bewitching as it has ever been, not least on ‘Gravedigress’ which casts Bianca as a child and Sierra as a gothic old woman, both cast outs from society. If this is your first listen to a CocoRosie record you will be enchanted: transported to a world of waving ‘grasswidows’ both bittersweet and haunting. Sierra is a multi-instrumentalist opera singer whose wispish contributions winds through doll-voiced Bianca’s more hip hop approach to storytelling.
They sing about the ‘End of Time’. They sample crows calling. They tell small narratives that reflect a world going off its rails. This is their calling card, weird as it is. It is impossible not to recognise their sound. It is not mistakable for another band. This quirk is something that ensnares them. How can they break their own unique mould?
Tales of a GrassWidow is a beautiful record but it’s difficult to see how it adds anything new to the CocoRosie canon. Bizzare it is, but in the same way as their other bizarre productions. It takes you on a journey that no one else could guide you through – but it’s a journey the sisters have trampled a path through already. This is a small complaint for such a textured, pretty, piercing record, but the sisters do seem to want to create something with contemporary relevance. At this they are not quite successful, failing only because they have been so successful in the past.
Tales of a GrassWidow is gorgeous and contributions from collaborators including Anthony Hegarty (‘Tales of Animals’). The record’s only fault is that it doesn’t reach as far as the sisters’ reputation for taking risks ought to take it.
Also, the bonus track is quite good. If you are prepared to wait a retro ten minutes or so.
CocoRosie are touring later this year and appear at the Latitude festival in July.