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

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Deciding to scale back the overly pretty sound on Blue Bell Knoll while experimenting with more accessibility -- -- the Twins ended up creating their best album since Treasure. From the start, Heaven... is simply fantastic: on "Cherry-Coloured Funk," Guthrie's inimitable guitar work chimes leading a low-key but forceful rhythm, while Raymonde's grand bass work fleshes it out. Fraser simply captivates; her vocals are the clearest, most direct they've ever been, purring with energy and life. Many songs have longer openings and closings; rather than crashing fully into a song and then quickly ending, instead the trio carefully builds up and eases back. These songs are still quite focused, though, almost sounding like they were recorded live instead of being assembled in the studio. Due credit has to be given to the Cocteaus' drum programming; years of working with the machines translated into the detailed work here, right down to the fills. "Fifty-Fifty Clown," starting with an ominous bass throb, turns into a lovely showcase for Fraser's singing and Guthrie's more restrained playing. But the Twins don't completely turn their back on Knoll's sound; "Iceblink Luck," has the same lush feeling and a newfound energy -- the instrumental break is almost a rave-up! -- and everything pulses to a fine conclusion. There are many moments of sheer Cocteaus beauty and power, including the title track, with its great chorus, and two spotlight Guthrie solos: "Fotzepolitic," a powerful number building to a rushing conclusion, and the album-ending "Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires." Possessing the same climactic sense of drama past disc-closers as "Donimo" and "The Thinner the Air," it's a perfect way to end a perfect album. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 14, 2014 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The first Cocteaus album to feature a full-band lineup since Treasure was also their first full studio record released in America, resulting from the group's stateside deal with Capitol. Much to longtime fans' surprise, the Twins in fact were much more content with Capitol than 4AD, hinting at their eventual full departure from that label. This was all well and good, but the trio's new inspiration didn't fully translate into their work, unfortunately. While Blue Bell Knoll has some striking moments that are pure Cocteaus at their best -- the opening title track is especially lovely with a keyboard loop leading into Fraser's ever-wonderful vocals, a light rhythm, and a great final Guthrie solo -- it's still the band's least noteworthy release since Garlands. The feeling throughout is of a group interested in dressing up older approaches that have served them well, but aren't as distinct; the quite-lush arrangements by Guthrie are fine but the songs are a touch more pedestrian. Blue Bell Knoll has enough initial steam, however, to ensure that there are reasons to listen, happily. "Athol-Brose" has the inspirational feel that the Twins can easily create. "Carolyn's Fingers," the clear album standout, is perhaps the strongest individual Cocteau song since "Aikea-Guinea," with Fraser singing against herself over a rough, hip-hop-inspired rhythm while Guthrie peels off a fantastic main guitar melody and Raymonde contributes some supple bass work. After that amazing opening, things slowly but surely slide back a bit; most of the rest sounds okay enough to listen to, but the heartgripping intensity that defines the Twins at their best isn't present. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 6, 2012 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 27, 2010 | 4AD

Distinctions 5/6 de Magic - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Inspired by the flyer culture of punk and college rock bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Deerhunter introduced Halcyon Digest with an “interactive Xerox art project” in which fans photocopied an old-school flyer made by Bradford Cox, pasted it around their towns, photographed it and sent the results back to the band. Besides being a clever viral strategy to drum up interest for the album, it speaks to the way Deerhunter approaches how fleeting and important memories can be on these songs. Given how prolific Cox and crew have been together -- and separately, with his Atlas Sound project and Lockett Pundt's Lotus Plaza -- since 2007’s Cryptograms, it’s not surprising that they took this opportunity to look back. Halcyon Digest reveals a quieter, sometimes gentler Deerhunter than expected, and while Cox doesn’t exactly sound tired, there’s an occasional rasp in his voice that wasn’t there before. Instead of emphasizing sonics that spiral out into the stratosphere as they did on Microcastle or Rainwater Cassette Exchange, the band emphasizes the dream part of their dream-pop roots. Halcyon Digest gets off to a sleepy start with “Earthquake,” where sluggish beats, looping guitars and reminiscences of “waking up on a dirty couch” feel like being awoken from a dream, or maybe going deeper into one; “Sailing” is a reverie on a pier, so whispered and intimate that it sounds like it belongs on a Cox solo album. Despite its delicacy, Halcyon Digest is some of Deerhunter's most down-to-earth music, and offers some of the band’s most thoughtful songwriting. Cox is more interested in playing with layers of nostalgia than layers of sound, expressing his yearning by channeling the music of youth and rebellion of decades past. “Don’t Cry” and “Basement Scene” evoke the eternally teenage sound of the Everly Brothers, filtered through a fever dream; the excellent “Memory Boy” cherishes “the smell of loose-leaf joints on jeans” with sparkling Anglophilic ‘60s pop. This may also be Deerhunter’s most emotionally varied album, spanning the jubilant sax on the oddly Strokes-like “Coronado” to “Helicopter”'s heartbreaking chamber-pop, which embodies lonely side of memories. The band saves just enough room for two quintessentially Deerhunter tracks: Pundt's gorgeous “Desire Lines” is a standout, taking flight halfway through into a glorious guitar excursion, while the transporting final track “He Would Have Laughed” is all the more poignant for its dedication to Jay Reatard. It’s not as immediate as previous Deerhunter albums, but Halcyon Digest has an appeal all its own: It’s as difficult to grasp -- and as hard to shake -- as a memory lingering at the back of your brain. ~ Heather Phares
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World - Released June 2, 2008 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Early punk backgrounds and the like behind them, Perry and Gerrard created a striking, dour landmark in early-'80s atmospherics on their first, self-titled effort. Bearing much more resemblance to the similarly gripping, dark early work of bands like the Cocteau Twins and the Cure than to the later fusions of music that would come to characterize the duo's sound, Dead Can Dance is as goth as it gets in many places. Perry and Gerrard's wonderful vocal work -- his rich, warm tones and her unearthly, multi-octave exaltations -- are already fairly well established, but serve different purposes here. Thick, shimmering guitar and rumbling bass/drum/drum machine patterns practically scream their sonic connections to the likes of Robin Guthrie and Robert Smith, but they still sound pretty darn good for all that. When they stretch that sound to try for a more distinct, unique result, the results are astonishing. Gerrard is the major beneficiary here -- "Frontier" explicitly experiments with tribal percussion, resulting in an excellent combination of her singing and the rushed music. Then there's the astonishing "Ocean," where guitar and chiming bells and other rhythmic sounds provide the bed for one of her trademark -- and quite, quite lovely -- vocal excursions into the realm of glossolalia. Perry in contrast tends to be matched with the more straightforward numbers of digital processing and thick, moody guitar surge. The album ends on a fantastic high note -- "Musica Eternal," featuring a slowly increasing-in-volume combination of hammered dulcimer, low bass tones, and Gerrard's soaring vocals. As an indicator of where the band was going, it's perfect. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 26, 2004 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 1989 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After the shock of Surfer Rosa, fans des Pixies found a tighter, less abrasive, but happily no better-behaved second album. The opening punch of Debaser, the saintly nonchalance on I Bleed, the enlightened surf pop of Monkey Gone To Heaven, the gag of La La Love You: Doolittle, released 1989 stored up all manner of gems, some troubling, others fascinating, others still surprising (everything that happens in the two mere minutes of Waves Of Mutilation is mind-bending), without ever looking like just another production of the times. This fusion of punk rock, surf music and pure pop achieves perfection here. After a record like this, we can have a better idea of where Pavement and Nirvana (Cobain named the Pixies as his favourite group) got their inspiration from...© Marc Zisman
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 19, 1988 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

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  • Sohn who?
    Sohn who? British Electro Soul... Tremors is the new album from Sohn released at 4AD earlier this week and frankly, we love it.