reviewed by Michael Thomas
Andrew Sisk and Miranda Durka — the two halves of Coco et Co.’s heart — aren’t content with concealing feelings or being ambiguous. Which isn’t to say these two are absolutely straightforward; rather, they’re economical with both their lyrics and their instrumentation.
Nearly every song on St. Dominique, the follow-up to the duo’s excellent St. Denis, almost oozes a specific feeling. There’s a lot of indecision, no doubt about that, but there’s excitement, love, fear, gloom and confidence. It took five years to get this follow-up out and even a few of the songs which were released as singles years ago feel fresh and urgent now.
And Coco et Co. could not have chosen a more vulnerable, urgent-sounding song to start off the album — “Ultrasound” is propelled by noisy guitars and the hum of synth as Sisk begins it with a hell of a line: “I saw you, I think I saw you/Hiding, keeping secrets longer than you should.” The narrator can’t promise much, but there’s one thing he can do: “This song, I’ll save it for you darling.”
Though not billed as such (and at different points of the tracklist), “Decide” and “Hesitate” feel like a two-parter. The first half, with its drawn-out guitar riffs and carefully slowed-down atmosphere, is the sound of someone realizing that making choices is hard. Sisk doesn’t sing a lot of words here, but it does the job. On the flipside, “Hesitate” is anchored in electro-pop and has much more of a bounce to it. Durka takes main vocals here and it’s like the aftereffect of making more decisions than she can count—she spends all her time thinking about how things could have gone better.
Appropriately, “Doom and Gloom” features by far the gloomiest musical atmosphere, but its outlook is surprisingly mature. Those who are perpetually angry or upset, first of all, know exactly what they are, but they’re trapped inside layers and layers of feelings that take some time to sift through. Often, just one little thing, “another piece of news I can’t ignore,” can just add to those layers.
Perhaps most surprising on the album is “Drone,” a six-minute, lyric-less instrumental that almost acts like a container for all the emotion swirling around this album. It’s got noticeable shifts in it along the way, like the steady drum machine that comes in after two minutes, or Sisk and Durka’s ethereal vocalizations past the four-minute mark. Though it’s totally unlike anything else on the album, it also feels like something that could have only come from Coco et Co.
Let’s hope a follow-up to this isn’t another five years down the road—this kind of finely-tuned emotional pop doesn’t come around as often as it should.
Top Tracks: “Ultrasound”; “Hesitate”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)