the first time i heard this album, it changed my life. rarely do i stumble across music so captivating and unique that i'm hooked on the first listen, but this album did it for me. soon after i heard this i had the cocteau twins' entire discography, and while much of it is good, some of it great (and some of it not so good), this to me remains on top.
why? mainly because of the dark haunting, minimal atmosphere. no, it doesn't sound like later cocteau twins, although the genesis of their ethereal, dream-pop sound is here. but what struck me about this album was the raw emotion, the seething rage hiding underneath the surface. the foundation of the music is provided by will hegge's (absent on later albums, eventually replaced by simon raymonde) menacing basslines, and simple drum machine patterns that nonetheless serve to hold the whole thing together. robin guthrie's guitar technique is utterly fascinating, the way he coaxes dark soundscapes out of the instrument, and the sound meshes perfectly with the bass. finally, elizabeth fraser's vocals are entirely original, she seems to be using her voice as another instrument more than a device to convey lyrical content (a trend which only intensified on later albums).
in interviews from the time, the band mentions that they were hugely influenced by the birthday party, and although the sound is different, the spirit is similar. the direct rawness and edge of this album is far more engaging to me than the cocteau twins' later work, although i like most of that too for it's own virtues, just don't expect this to sound like that.