Once again I'm in a hurry and obliged to recycle an old post, and a very minimal one. I had thought from the beginning of this series that I would include a Cocteau Twins album, and that it would probably be Treasure. But I don't have time to write a new post and I already had this one, such as it is. I think I actually like Treasure a little better. It's a little stranger and maybe a little darker. But Heaven or Las Vegas is very good, and if you like one you'd probably like the other.
We all know about the alienation and inauthenticity of technological civilization, we all wonder if it’s sustainable, etc. But I couldn’t help feeling fortunate to live in this time and place a couple of weeks ago when I found myself driving east across the bay at twilight, with the full moon directly in front of me, listening to Heaven Or Las Vegas. If you know and like the otherworldly, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes wistful sound of the Cocteau Twins, you have an idea of what I mean. Someone once described Treasure, an album considered a masterpiece by most Twins lovers, as sounding like a roomful of angels. I don’t know how accurate that is but it serves well enough as an indicator of the sort of magic the group can work.
I only recently heard this album, having let it slip by for a long time, partly because of the mistaken idea that it came after the group moved from 4AD to Capitol and became more mainstream and, to my taste, less inspired. But it was in fact their last 4AD release, and if Heaven is at all inferior to Treasure, it’s by very little. I’d say at least half the songs here are as good as anything they ever did. And for someone who likes them that’s very, very good. There are a couple of songs where Elisabeth Fraser’s cascading melodies (I’ve always assumed she writes them, as they seem so inseparable from her voice) attain the uncanny ability to make you feel as if your spirit is literally being lifted.
The very best Twins album might be one combining the best tracks from their many EPs. "Aikea-Guinea", for instance.
--Mac is the proprietor of this blog.