CocoRosie – We Are On FirePosted by Robert Catherall
It’s said that traveling has the power to release one from their creature comforts and into a state of unwitting bewilderment. Familiarities such as climate, language, and space (to name a few) are in constant flux. Plus, you don’t even know where you’ll sleep each night. These constant changes can either cripple or empower a traveler. Or, in the case of CocoRosie‘s Bianca and Sierra Casady, both travelers.
Following visits to Europe, Australia, and South America the duo released Grey Oceans on Sub Pop last year. A renewed confidence saw them go beyond the dainty experimental lyricism of their first three albums. The record was an evolved form that nevertheless failed to maintain its focus. Now, two years after their travels, they have settled back into their Brooklyn lives and diversified their sound to reach the audience that was waiting for them all along.
Since their unclear departure from Touch and Go in 2009, audiences have been asked to forget everything they knew about CocoRosie. All the mildewed lullabies that conjure green knolls of Irish folklore or the lonely abandonment of a deserted white sand island should be left behind if listeners are to keep stride with the artists as they move forward. And that’s not too much to ask since CocoRosie have taken the first step. Until this single the Casady sisters have assumed the fantastical roles of ephemeral faeries. But We are on Fire sees the duo relinquish their Elven coquette as they join the legion of late night narcissists.
Returning to Touch & Go under the guidance of producer Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio); We Are On Fire makes sense of everything that Grey Oceans left unfinished. The wanton break beat interludes and haunting bass lines that have recently entered CocoRosie’s repertoire have become the focus of the sisters’ songwriting. Rather than simply tying up loose ends, We Are On Fire projects CocoRosie into the daydream head-bobbing of electro-pop and away from their introspective, lyrically focused early work.
While the duo has changed pace, however, their charm has remained. A late night evocation of eerie bass beats, “We Are On Fire” is the amalgamation of Sierra’s opera training, Bianca’s nervous vocals, and Sitek’s bass-heavy production. With a chorus that refrains “I used to have eyes/The color of sky/Now I can see in the middle of the night” oddly as ever, the operatic samplings integrated into Sitek’s beat make no sister the lesser. The producer’s omniscient guidance puts their vocal dichotomy at ease to create a relaxed, even seductive, atmosphere.
Meanwhile, “Tearz for Animals” sees the duo again working with the undeniably moving voice of long-time collaborator Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons), who once more augments the Casady sisters’ dynamic vocalizations. Singing in their uniquely engaging fashions Bianca and Antony exchange starlight to simultaneously recite calls to action, “Do you have love for humankind?/(Hope for healing if you’re willing)”.
Just as God Has A Voice, She Speaks Through Me alluded to the experimentations of Grey Oceans, We Are On Fire is an optimistic precursor to their next full-length. Let’s just hope it’s a more coherent effort than Grey Oceans. But for now let We are on Fire soundtrack the late nights this summer.