Once upon a time, a fairy tale had a bit of bite. Although we’ve got our Sookies and other alternative versions of nice sprites, for the most part, the wicked little pixies of the grim Grimm days have been pasted over by Disney princesses. But perhaps Game of Thrones really heralds the return of the old-fashioned magical trickster. And if those classical fairies and goblins have a voice in modern music, they are most assuredly speaking through the throats of CocoRosie. Way back when, even the most beautiful fae creature had evil lurking within her—and CocoRosie’s latest record is a spellbinding collection of that very brand of gorgeous darkness.
Tales of a Grasswidow, like most of the group’s records, creates an intoxicating elixir of sophisticated sounds and something more whimsical and childlike. The delicate babytalk feel of the vocals can often put a gloss on some of the lyrical content. This phenomenon is in full effect in the song “Child Bride,” from which the title is pulled: “I wash my body / Five years grown / Promised father, leave me alone / Hope not too lonely.” Wrapped up in the (likely deliberate) world-pop style, this song doesn’t quite pack a punch—rather, it seeps a subtle poison into listeners almost undetected. The rest of the record continues this weirdly lovely creep-out effect with songs like “Villain”—a track that makes incest and rape sound rather groovy if you don’t pay close attention.
Other standout tracks include the Bjorkian gypsy-tinged “Gravediggress,” and the Rasputina-gone-Pure Moods “Roots of My Hair.” Altogether, a spectacularly complex and frighteningly pretty record. If standard Tinkerbell’s your thing, maybe leave it alone. But if you’re looking for a dark descent down the rabbit hole, give Tales of a Grasswidow your full attention.