Garlands was the first album from Cocteau Twins and it is very much the sound of a band finding their feet. It is the only album with original bassist Will Heggie and his chugging basslines give the album a distinctive sound. Robin Guthrie, by his own admission, had no idea how a studio worked at the time, but was confident enough in his burgeoning ability to produce. The result is an album, and a guitar sound, with a strangled, constricted range and a dark ambience.In the post-punk world of the early 1980s the influence of Siouxsie and the Banshees and other proto-goths is clear, but the beginning of the trademark ethereal Twins sound is also here, especially in Elizabeth Fraser's curiously addictive vocals.
The songs are simple, repetitive and haunting, with guitar, vocals, bass and the gloriously lo-fi drum machine; usually entering separately and building to a climax, like 'Grail Overfloweth'. Other songs built around a simple repetive guitar refrain, almost Fripp-like in its minimalism, like album highlights 'Wax and Wane' or 'Blind Dumb Deaf.'
Unfortunately, this reissue omits the John Peel session which was probably many listeners first experience of the Cocteaus (it was certainly mine) and this is a shame as it is possibly the best of the early work with Heggie still in tow.
Overall, an interesting album, but not the place to start if you're new to the Cocteau Twins. Its probably of most interest to those who remember the original release, or want to see how the band started out.