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Alternative & Indie - Released July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
After a prolific tear through the mid-'80s, the Cocteau Twins slowed down near the decade's end. Having released 5 albums and 8 standalone EPs between 1982 and 1986, they took an unheard-of two years to release Blue Bell Knoll, their first on U.S. major label Capitol Records, after which ... silence. There was no tour. No promo jaunt. Just a few magazine features and, if you were lucky to catch it on 120 Minutes, a music video featuring the group and their ever-faithful reel-to-reel machine. News reports surfaced that Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie had a baby, and that Simon Raymonde's father had died. Whispers circulated that Guthrie's cocaine habit was out of hand and that, despite the new baby, he and Fraser's relationship was in tatters. It would not have been surprising if the next thing the public heard from the Cocteau Twins was an announcement of their breakup. Instead, in September 1990, they released Heaven or Las Vegas, an album that could easily stand as the best work in their entire catalog. (4AD label head Ivo Watts-Russell called it "a perfect record," though that didn't stop him from dropping the band a month after its release, due to irreconcilable personality differences.) Despite whatever turmoil and crisis was consuming the band at the time—and by all accounts, there was more than plenty—Heaven or Las Vegas shines and shimmers with a sense of emotional resonance and clarity that had previously never been fully realized on a Cocteau’s release. The pop songs here–"Iceblink Luck," "Fotzepolitic," the title track–are explosively joyful and irresistibly catchy. Guthrie's intricate, gossamer guitar work glides atop sturdy, forceful beats anchored by Raymonde's liquid basslines and Fraser's voice at its most expressive and expansive (and nearly intelligible). Meanwhile, midtempo, introspective tracks like "Fifty-Fifty Clown" and "I Wear Your Ring" and, especially, the heart-wrenching beauty of the album's final three tracks ("Wolf in the Breast," "Road, River and Rail," and "Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires") traffic in an emotional purity that's as close to plain spoken as the group had ever been. And while the precise lyrical components are still quite cryptic, the impact is inarguable. Heaven or Las Vegas is pure flex on behalf of the Cocteau Twins, showing off everything they're capable of doing, all at once, and at the highest level. It would be a remarkable piece of art by any group, but for one that was literally falling apart at the time, it's a dizzying accomplishment. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 26, 2004 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After a prolific tear through the mid-'80s, the Cocteau Twins slowed down near the decade's end. Having released 5 albums and 8 standalone EPs between 1982 and 1986, they took an unheard-of two years to release Blue Bell Knoll, their first on U.S. major label Capitol Records, after which ... silence. There was no tour. No promo jaunt. Just a few magazine features and, if you were lucky to catch it on 120 Minutes, a music video featuring the group and their ever-faithful reel-to-reel machine. News reports surfaced that Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie had a baby, and that Simon Raymonde's father had died. Whispers circulated that Guthrie's cocaine habit was out of hand and that, despite the new baby, he and Fraser's relationship was in tatters. It would not have been surprising if the next thing the public heard from the Cocteau Twins was an announcement of their breakup. Instead, in September 1990, they released Heaven or Las Vegas, an album that could easily stand as the best work in their entire catalog. (4AD label head Ivo Watts-Russell called it "a perfect record," though that didn't stop him from dropping the band a month after its release, due to irreconcilable personality differences.) Despite whatever turmoil and crisis was consuming the band at the time—and by all accounts, there was more than plenty—Heaven or Las Vegas shines and shimmers with a sense of emotional resonance and clarity that had previously never been fully realized on a Cocteau’s release. The pop songs here–"Iceblink Luck," "Fotzepolitic," the title track–are explosively joyful and irresistibly catchy. Guthrie's intricate, gossamer guitar work glides atop sturdy, forceful beats anchored by Raymonde's liquid basslines and Fraser's voice at its most expressive and expansive (and nearly intelligible). Meanwhile, midtempo, introspective tracks like "Fifty-Fifty Clown" and "I Wear Your Ring" and, especially, the heart-wrenching beauty of the album's final three tracks ("Wolf in the Breast," "Road, River and Rail," and "Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires") traffic in an emotional purity that's as close to plain spoken as the group had ever been. And while the precise lyrical components are still quite cryptic, the impact is inarguable. Heaven or Las Vegas is pure flex on behalf of the Cocteau Twins, showing off everything they're capable of doing, all at once, and at the highest level. It would be a remarkable piece of art by any group, but for one that was literally falling apart at the time, it's a dizzying accomplishment. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 19, 1988 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 1984 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 1, 1982 | 4AD

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Garlands, the first album by the Cocteau Twins published in September 1982 by the 4AD record label lay the groundwork for that unique post-punk, shoegaze and dream pop combination that the Scottish band would develop until the early 90s. Liz Garland imposes a totally atypical vocal bolstered by a dreamy charisma and which would later see dizzying acrobatics, to which Robin Guthrie adds a wall of sound: his reverb-filled guitar paints electric and often impressionist landscapes. Guthrie also pilots the machines, notably an omnipresent TR-808 which offers a nice balance against the dreamlike guitar/voice solo. On the bass is Will Heggie, who would leave the adventure in due course, replaced in 1984 by Simon Raymonde who is more inspired in this field. In hindsight, even though Garlands remains one of the greatest albums of the 80s, these Cocteau Twins appear to still be searching for some identity, too stuck in the same universe as The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees. However, Liz Garland and Robin Guthrie would eventually cut their ties with the cold wave and broaden the colour of their sound to deliver gems such as Treasure (1984), Victorialand (1986), Blue Bell Knoll (1988) and Heaven or Las Vegas (1990). ©️ Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2015 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 14, 1986 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 31, 1983 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 10, 1986 | 4AD

The Moon and the Melodies is a collaboration between the Cocteau Twins and keyboardist/composer Harold Budd that fits soundly between the stylistic signatures of the two, both of whom make organic music that relies heavily on electronics. Budd's use of spacious treated piano and keyboard sounds (influenced by a previous collaborator, Brian Eno) combines with the Cocteau Twins' shimmering waves of guitars and Elizabeth Fraser's layered wordless vocals to create what amounts to a soundtrack to a dream about sleeping, with saxophones courtesy of Richard Thomas (of the now defunct Dif Juz) breathing further life into the music. Too bland to be the best introduction to the music of either, but a welcome addition to the collections of fans of both. © Peter Stepek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 5, 2018 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

"Over their final five years, Cocteau Twins released some of the bravest, most enthralling music of their career." © TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 14, 1986 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2015 | 4AD

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Unlike perhaps any other act of the era, the Cocteau Twins' '80s discography is one that is as defined by its EP releases as it is by its full-length albums. Of the eight EPs the band released over the course of the decade, only one (Sunburst and Snowblind) was a "single" in the sense that it featured an album track and some additional material. All of the rest, from Lullabies through Love's Easy Tears were conceived, recorded, and released as standalone creations, individual statements as fully realized as the longer albums they were interspersed between. Among those individual statements, however, two EPs have always been clearly connected. Tiny Dynamine and Echoes in a Shallow Bay were released two weeks apart in November 1985 (between the release of the Treasure and Victorialand albums), shared similar conceptual themes (butterflies!) and artwork, and, more explicitly, resulted from the same recording sessions. Using a studio on loan from William Orbit, the Twins set down these tracks not with the purpose of recording a new album, but simply to figure out what could and could not be done with the new equipment at their disposal. Thus, these two EPs have lived their lives together—"like a brother and sister," according to Robin Guthrie—even being released together as a mini-LP at the height of the CD era and now, being permanently canonized as one conjoined release in the group's hi-res discography. Sitting both temporally and stylistically at the exact midpoint of the the baroque dynamism of Treasure and the spacious, percussion-free quasi-ambience of Victorialand, the collective eight tracks are, in all likelihood, the exact sound that's conjured in your head when someone says "Cocteau Twins." Guthrie's overdriven and overdubbed guitars wring feedback into thickly layered atmospheres and Simon Raymonde's warm, dubby basslines provide an anchor, while Elizabeth Fraser's voice sings unfamiliar words that may or may not be about anything, but are nonetheless deeply effective and highly melodic. And while the recipe is unmistakably what the group is associated with, this particular presentation is unique in their canon. Managing to be both ethereal and forceful, there's a mid-tempo tension to these songs; they wobble between gorgeous soundscapes and melodramatic melodies. While Guthrie's piano-like guitar work on "Melonella" points to a future collaboration with Harold Budd, and the elegant simplicity of "Eggs and Their Shells" makes it one of the group's most direct and beautiful numbers, these two EPs are best taken together, as a whole. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 1993 | EMI

Cocteau Twins' first release following their exodus from the 4AD stable, Four-Calendar Café is also, tellingly, their most earthbound effort; as with Heaven or Las Vegas, the emphasis here is on substance as much as style -- "Evangeline," "Bluebeard," and "Know Who You Are at Every Age" continue the trio's advance into more accessible melodic and lyrical ground without sacrificing even an ounce of their trademark ethereality. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 1, 1993 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Cocteau Twins' first release following their exodus from the 4AD stable, Four-Calendar Café is also, tellingly, their most earthbound effort; as with Heaven or Las Vegas, the emphasis here is on substance as much as style -- "Evangeline," "Bluebeard," and "Know Who You Are at Every Age" continue the trio's advance into more accessible melodic and lyrical ground without sacrificing even an ounce of their trademark ethereality. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 13, 2006 | 4AD

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Pop - Released January 1, 1995 | EMI

Throughout the '80s, Cocteau Twins created some of the most beautiful and innovative music of the decade. Liz Fraser's uncanny, gossamer voice and Robin Guthrie's shimmery guitar work both garnered acclaim and inspired bands. Milk & Kisses finds the band in a comfortable rut; they've created, and now perfected, a style of music so distinctive that there seems to be little recent creative growth. The result is a beautiful, lush, but somewhat dated and unengaging sounding album that tends to wash over the listener without making any real impact. It is, however, everything that a Cocteau Twins album promises; hypnotic, dreamy, awash in ethereal voices, and delicate, liquid guitars. "Tishbite" in particular delivers an accessible dream pop sound that sounds nice while it's playing but fails to have anything really memorable about it, a problem that plagues most of Milk & Kisses. "Half-Gifts," "Rilkean Heart," and "Treasure Hiding" have an airy, otherwordly prettiness to them -- but that's about it. Necessary for Cocteau Twins diehards and potentially interesting to those that have never heard the band before, Milk & Kisses says nothing, but says it beautifully. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 16, 2000 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 10, 2003 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 13, 1986 | 4AD

The band's first full trio recording without guests since Echoes in a Shallow Bay, Tears has the group in a slight holding pattern, though not without some songs of merit. The title track has good performances from Guthrie and Raymonde both on their instruments, the former creating one of his trademark crystalline feedback washes for the chorus, as Fraser's voice swoops and swirls throughout. "Those Eyes, That Mouth" is the definite winner of the bunch, with Fraser's work the key factor. Her up-and-down yelps and cries on the verses establish the basic feelings, while her sudden shift to a more soothing wash of exultance on the chorus is striking, accentuated by the equally surging music as the song fades up and out. "Sigh's Smile of Farewell" is close to being run-of-the-mill for the Twins, but it's still good stuff, Guthrie's guitar sounding like bells and Fraser in good voice as ever. "Orange Appled" concludes the proceedings with an understated but strong rhythm punch and a great vocal/chime combination on the chorus from Fraser and Guthrie. © Ned Raggett /TiVo