After hearing Noah's Ark, any concerns about CocoRosie becoming too tasteful or straightforward after the widespread critical acclaim for their debut album, La Maison de Mon Reve, can be put to rest. If anything, the album errs in the opposite direction: alternately rambling and hypnotic, it's much more somber and insular (despite the presence of such kindred spirits as Devendra Banhart and Antony of Antony & the Johnsons) than the duo's subversively angelic-sounding debut. La Maison de Mon Reve certainly had a dark undercurrent that added considerable sting to its sweetness, but it's much more prominent on Noah's Ark; sad, eerie lyrics like "K-Hole"'s "All of the aborted babies will turn into little Bambies" are paired with equally spooky, mournful music instead of the deceptively light tones of the group's first album. There's a lot of power in the album's darkness, particularly on the apocalyptic campfire singalong "Armageddon." However, Noah's Ark occasionally feels too mannered and unfocused, and overly reliant on the sound effects and toy instruments that made their first album so surreally charming: in particular, interludes like "Milk" and "Bear Hides and Buffalo" sound like noise collages missing the key pieces that would hold them together. That said, the album still has many moments of transporting beauty, especially on the songs that feel less cloistered. On "Beautiful Boyz," Antony's gorgeous croon adds a touch of cabaret to the song's tale of star-crossed jailhouse love, and Banhart's Spanish-language mysticism on "Brazilian Sun" advances CocoRosie's dreamy exoticism, giving it a more organic feel than it had on La Maison de Mon Reve. Indeed, the more natural moments on Noah's Ark are often the best: the title track, "South 2nd," and "The Sea Is Calm" all put the focus on the Casady sisters' delicate singing and playing. A disappointment mostly in comparison to the seemingly out-of-nowhere brilliance of La Maison de Mon Reve, Noah's Ark might fail to charm those not already bewitched by that album, but it won't break the spell for devoted fans.