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The fact remains that despite a whole host of post-punk wannabes adopting the flange 'n' drum machine tactics of the Twins, no-one has ever come remotely close to emulating their sound. They are, possibly, the perfect example of a band who inhabit their own hermetically-sealed universe. Fraser's voice to resort to cliche, can only be described as unearthly. The swoops, ululations and delicate, whimsical, nursery rhyme-aliteration were coaxed out of her famously painful shyness by bathing them in the new wave Phil Spectorism's of the trio's production style of reverb, drenched in delay...in a cathedral. Like Spector, the Cocteaus never knew the meaning of restraint when it came to processing a sound. But on Treasure, the style, which could prove a little too muddy, repetitive and overlayed on previous albums, here benefits from better digital equipment and Raymonde's production skills. Witness the way that the opener (and ode to 4AD label boss, Ivo Watts-Russell), Ivo, builds from folky lullaby to something that probably set Kevin Shields on his merry way.
Of course a little obfustication always adds to the mystique. Reams have been written by fans about the meaning of Fraser's lyrics. Yet, in the end, as with the single word song titles, you know that words are chosen for their resonance, not their meanings. At the beginning of Otterley does she really sing , "I'm a yum yum"? Probably not, but it doesn't matter. The childlike sing-song element, mixed with Fraser's astounding range, makes for a deceptively emotional mixture, evoking nostalgia, sadness, and vertigo.
To modern ears the drum machine's relentless boom can seem a little too rigorous, yet Guthrie's guitar - in part a successor to Vini Reilly's excercises in ambient picking, covering all bases from lacy filigree to roaring Glenn Branca-style sheets of noise - always keeps the ears aurally massaged. Quite simply, Treasure was where the Cocteau Twins first got it 100 percent right. --Chris Jones
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A few years ago my then-girlfriend played me a track by the Cocteau Twins. She didn't tell me what it was called or what album it was on, but even though I only heard it once the bizarre haunting vocal line stayed with me. Four years later (about three months ago) I was flicking through the boxes at a cd fair and came across a cluster of Cocteau Twins albums and, on a whim, chose this one - hoping to find the track I'd heard. The song wasn't on here (if you're interested it was 'in the gold dust rush' from 'head over heels') but I haven't been so pleased with an impulse purchase in years.
There's very little point in me trying to describe what this album sounds like. Many have tried with varying degrees of success over the years. I don't want to just chuck in the words 'ethereal', 'haunting', 'other-worldly' which are staples used to describe pretty much anything more subtle than Jet these days. Let me put it simply...
This. album. is. wonderful.
It sounds like nothing I've heard before. The lyrics may be indecipherable but those strange syllables have been clinging to my ears ever since I first heard them. "peep-oh peach blow pandor pompador" - I don't know what it means but it's under my skin now and I don't think it's going anywhere.
Even aside from the vocals, which are the most immediately distinctive thing about this cd, the music is unique too. There are hints of My Bloody Valentine in the guitars, perhaps the jangle could bring you in mind of Felt, the keyboards and atmospherics can link to anything from Joy Division to Mogwai to Boards of Cananda but really comparisons are useless. This is unique and special.Read more ›
It's true that you can detect certain superfluous similarities between those bands and this album, but, in all honesty, Treasure doesn't really sound like anything else. In fact, having subsequently purchased other Cocteau's albums, I've found that every LP that they've released sounds somewhat different to the one that came before. It's impossible to really explain their sound to someone who is unfamiliar with their work without falling back on a clutch of over-emotive and needlessly verbose descriptions, using words like glacial, fragile, fractured, haunting, ethereal, lush, lulled, incandescent, dreamlike, evocative, haunted - and so on and so on - in an attempt to sum up that distinct and magical Cocteau Twins' sound. As a result, Treasure seems to be beyond categorisation... one of those unique offerings that will delight some and infuriate others (see also; Talk Talk's Laughing Stock, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, Scott Walker's Tilt, Medulla by Björk or the 2002 effort by Sigur Ros), by refusing to pander to the generic conventions of rock or pop music and, instead, disappearing into it's own private world.Read more ›
I first heard of the Cocteau Twins in 1985 when I was a rather rabid Cure fan, I had read somewhere that the Cocteau Twins were Robert Smith's favorite band. That was enough for me to search them out, but it simply wasn't that easy. Anyone who is my age with my musical tastes will recall the days when record stores just didn't have everything (well, not here anyway, America is weird like that).Read more ›