Cocteau Twins Series: GARLANDS
The first in a series on the Cocteau Twins discography. Yodelodelodel
GARLANDS — the first Cocteau Twins LP and the only one with original bassist Will Heggie — has the band naturally still finding their sound, but starting off much closer to the mark than most. Liz Fraser’s vocal warbles and Robin Guthrie’s textural guitars are all over it, if in ≈nascent form.
For any who don’t know (????), Cocteau Twins were IMHO the defining, iconic band of the defining, iconic record label 4AD in its formative early years — formative for both the label itself, and for the whole music/arts/alternative/goth/punk/etc cultures of the 80s, 90s, and on and on.
In their infancy, Cocteau Twins were often compared to male-led bands I respect but don’t especially enjoy listening to, like Joy Division and Bauhaus — or even accused of imitating Siouxsie & the Banshees, a band I’m not super fluent in but who certainly provided aesthetic influence.
Yet today, especially over the past ten years, artists like CHVRCHES, Grimes, Purity Ring — and entire subgenres like witch house, dark ambient, darkwave etc — are still reaching for Cocteau Twins’ distinctively ethereal, otherworldly, cavernous sound and magic.
Often imitated. Never replicated.
And that all begins with Garlands, a record I hadn’t listened to until this past November. Is it a little muddy? Yes. Are the tracks too samey? Yes. Is it a bit more droning and repetitive than I’d like? Of course — that’s arguably half the point. Is this Cocteau Twins at their best? Absolutely not.
But birthing a new expressive universe is a messy process.
P.S. — The next Cocteau Twins record was an EP: LULLABIES. Though it’s only three tracks and still not the band’s best, it’s interesting to note that just three months after their debut, the band released three songs that share an uptempo style with more ambitious drum programming.
This piece is part of an ongoing series. Find the other parts below:
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