Is it too early to start fighting about the new Coco Rosie album, Noah's Ark? I got an advance in the mail last month, though apparently it doesn't come out 'til September. My theory, to which I do not actually subscribe, is that Touch & Go are hoping that potential reviewers will want to look beyond their initial reactions to Coco Rosie's affectations, which are many. If my theory were true, it would mean that Touch & Go are perhaps the most hopeful label in the world, which slogan I am happy to part with for free.
Anyhow, I've been returning to this album for a month now, and I think it's almost a masterpiece. It's also considerably more affected and precious than La Maison de mon Reve, so if you hated that one and like this one, you are a poseur who needed Antony & Devendra's permission to dig this hurting hothouse groove. You will have lots of company. The presence of an in-form Antony on an early track here ("Beautiful Boyz") will almost surely cause a few ears to prick up, as will Devendra's mainly-French-and-Spanish interjections, which I totally do not get, by the way.
What I do get, though, is that Noah's Ark is a pretty complex album, and one whose lyrics count as poetry. I expect that the predominant vocal, with its sex-kitten vs. little-girl style, will inspire well-heated ire from some quarters, and I kinda wonder why that is; rap's the most popular music in the world, and its bread and butter is affectation piled whole city blocks high, which is not just perfectly OK but is the kernel of truth at the very core of poetry itself. That's why poetry's scary, and why people need big beats to stomach it, and why it's been the butt of jokes since it first crawled up from the gutters: it knows that if it's a phony, then so are you. How, then, does the family snapshot look, hanging there on the wall?
So this is a preemptive strike. I'm setting up camp in the pro-Noah's Ark camp early, while there's still plenty of space. The non-little-girl singing here features some of the most nuanced phrasings this side of Joni Mitchell circa Court and Spark; the little-girl stuff is also great, because it lends a voice to some words that beg to be lifted from the page. Crystallized in ink or on a screen, they either don't work very well or they don't work at all, so people who hate the album will have plenty of ammo. But I really think there's something good and true in here, and I think that wasting words about what scene Coco Rosie does or doesn't belong to and when they did or didn't arrive there is playground stuff, and I want to say so before the buzz begins. Noah's Ark, you guys. It's worth listening to closely and at length.
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