An enchanting debut, CocoRosie
's La Maison de Mon Rêve
is a dreamy yet challenging confection of found sounds, folk-blues, trip-hop, girlish pop, and experimental recording and production techniques. The Casady sisters' breathy, slightly different, but equally lovely vocals circle each other atop delicately plucked and strummed acoustic guitars, chirping birds, and fractured beats, making for a sound that is hard to define outside of its own beauty and creativity. A strong Billie Holiday influence colors the sisters' vocals, particularly on La Maison de Mon Rêve
's most accessible songs, but even then, CocoRosie isn't so much aping Lady Day as it is invoking her style in unique ways. Layers of crickets, birds, pianos, and intensely sweet backing vocals make "By Your Side" an unusually intimate and spontaneous-sounding, while lyrics like "I'd wear your black eyes/Bake you apple pies" give it a subversive, feminist angle. "Butterscotch" mixes ethereal sensuality with a mischievous sense of humor, and "Good Friday"'s whispered remembrances make it the most romantic moment on La Maison de Mon Rêve
, which -- as if it needed any more romance -- was recorded in Paris in the springtime. The unusual found sound samples and percussion that pepper the album give it a uniquely immediate, you-are-there feel that is especially evocative on its more impressionistic tracks like "Candyland" and "Not for Sale." "Tahitian Rain Song" explores the most experimental edges of CocoRosie's music, with its samples of rain, Asian-sounding flutes, and distant vocals all cloaked in a layer of radio static; "Hatian Love Songs" adds a subtle hip-hop influence to the duo's repertoire of sounds. As lovely and distinctive as La Maison de Mon Rêve
is, it's difficult to find fault with it. One tiny flaw appears on "Jesus Loves Me," a frayed, bluesy song inspired by the children's hymn; on this track, the soulfulness that makes the rest of the album sound so unique crosses over into a grating parody. Still, La Maison de Mon Reve
is so bewitching that it's almost hard to believe that this is CocoRosie's first album -- along with Touch & Go brethren TV on the Radio
, CocoRosie is one of the most sonically interesting bands of the 2000s.