Different. Is the word you are looking for. This kind of music, slightly reminiscent of certain Animal Collective phases and earlier Grizzly Bear, (although CocoRosie seems to be more grounded in consistent beats) asks that you participate in the act of sitting down and listening to music. There are lots of interesting subtleties that the common listener probably won’t be willing to digest.
It is definitely something you have to go out of your way and give a chance, but they won’t disappoint you. The sisters choose interesting arrangements. They manage to make beat-boxing, wind-chimes, melodica and basic piano chords grooveable. It doesn’t even matter that one of them sounds like an infant. “After the Afterlife” is a truly amazing piece of art. And it is almost because of their dedication to “their thing they do” that I am surprised by the level of commercial success they have achieved. I admire these girls for sticking to whatever this little niche is and really going for it.
One subtlety I really appreciate is that in Tales of a GrassWidow, it is clear the group consciously chose to use different types of recording equipment for artistic purpose. After the Afterlife uses a more lo-fi vocal recording process which creates a much more appropriate texture. It is this choice to say, “hey, I know this is probably going to be more difficult to do perfectly, and I know we could just go into a studio and play with certain filters, but it would only be 98% the same and I really want that last 2%.” That choice is what makes CocoRosie great in my mind.