Cocorosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn

Artist: Cocorosie

Album: The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (2007)

Songs: Animals, Raphael

Cocorosie have always been weird -- their first album was utterly bizarre, and so was their second.
But their creepy freakfolk sound is taken a step further in their third album, "The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn." The sister duo's sound is more polished and complex in this one, but remains eerie, bizarre and enticing -- like a fantastical child's dream.
It opens with Bianca crooning "Of aaaaaalllll the white horses," over rattly maraca, keening guitar, chittering birds and a smooth keyboard melody. But by nature it's hip-hop oriented, with some childlike rapping:
"He's moved a little nearer/to the master of our laughter/to the master of our song... then we gathered in a circle/still drown the rainbow fire/burning amber's not united/we remember mystical beauty." It's gloriously catchy, but kept from being merely poppy by all those odd sounds and extra melodies.
Things get less openly catchy with the songs that follow -- skittering ambient rap, clattering pop tunes that are crammed with keyboard tones and scratchy samples, music-box ballads, wistful little meandering freakfolk tunes, and delicate guitar pop with a soaring keyboard edge.
The music in "The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn" is almost TOO full at times, like a dusty room filled with old dolls and ornate toys. But it's never predictable -- there's always a weird new melody draped in oddball sounds for them. You never even have the chance to get bored.
The instrumentation is a bit more electronically oriented this time around, with waves of organ and keyboard over the smooth piano, rattly drums and ringing guitar. Sometimes these girls throw in some random samples (is that a duck?), bicycle bells, and some toy instruments -- it's a little cluttered, but it makes every song wildly unpredictable.
The songs are just as unpredictable -- sometimes silly, somtimes somber. They're filled with crystals, rollercoasters, werewolves, witches, wanting to go to Japan, and girls who talk to geese. All these are sung in Bianca's versatile voice, which can flip from opera to rap, and back to a high, rambling crack-pixie voice.
Cocorosie go into stranger, eerie territory with their polished third album, a checkered mix of freakfolk and crazy pop. Definitely a must-listen.

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