The fear manifest.
You know that feeling you get the morning after the office party? That fear? You’re not quite sure what you said or did, but as the day wears on and the hangover bites, those anxieties and paranoias are going to run amok. That’s what Cocoa Sugar is like.
This is an album that is made of anxiety. It’s a frenetic race to get the message across before the planet implodes. It doesn’t even feel like it’s an album of this decade. To my ears, it’s totally futuristic, sounding like its release date was actually planned for 2048 as opposed to 2018.
You listen and you want to dance. Then realise you can’t. It’s too unsettling, too discordant. The time signatures are just too cranky. You have the likes of Fee Fi, with its unsettling, out of tune piano chords clashing against those unstructured rhythms. Ditto tracks like Wow, Toy and Wire, all of which seem designed to make the listener feel distinctly uncomfortable. But out of that dark dystopia, heavenly choirs keep emerging, like rays of sunlight piercing through the darkness. There is fragile beauty here, in songs like Lord and Picking You. It’s comforting, it reassures you that actually everything is okay.
Ultimately, it’s that space that exists between those moments of utter beauty and the subterranean Dantesque feel of the rest of the album that the magic exists. You can never relax and you are never quite sure what to expect next. That makes it a compelling listen and it’s what makes Cocoa Sugar so brilliant. That’s what differentiates it from the merely good albums of the decade.
Oh, and one final point – it also has the cover of the decade. Don’t even think about arguing that point.