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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 5 May 2017
Bought this on vinyl when it first came out and now being able to listen to it on CD in the car takes me back. Still sounds lovely today.
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on 24 September 2005
The cover art, with that sad, nocturnal image of a dressmaker's dummy, shrouded partially by a billowing net curtain, seems to perfectly evoke the bleak beauty of late-night isolation so central to the Cocteau Twin's sound. This album was the first of theirs that I bought, having been spurred on by a friend who still considers them to be the greatest band in the world and who sold me on their sound by citing the similarities between the Cocteau's and other artists like My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Ros and Björk, as well as 4AD label mates like The Pixies and Pale Saints.
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.
The overall sound of the album is dense and carefully constructed, with each song conveying a certain mood or emotion as the band move from the delicate chamber pop of opening track Ivo towards something as abrasive and rock-like as the storming Persephone. Curiously, all the song titles seem to be old-fashioned names... I'm not sure why, but again, as with the art work and the overall sound of the album it works towards establishing a mood or perhaps a state of mind that somehow makes the whole unique world that the album creates all the more believable. This was really the first album in which the Cocteau Twins as a band (...here comprising of Robin Guthrie, Elizabeth Fraser and Simon Raymonde) really started to emerge with their own sound and perspective. So, Treasure is both an improvement on their fine second album, Head Over Heels, and a joyful precursor to the sublime albums that would follow, in particular, Blue Bell Knoll, Victorialand and Heaven or Las Vegas.
The sound of Cocteau Twins (and indeed, this album) is characterised by the integration of those layered guitars with those flowing and ethereal vocals. As would become something of a trademark on subsequent albums, Guthrie's approach to the guitar here was to layer an assortment of different tracks using both electric and acoustic guitars, which were then further augmented by a variety of different guitar effects and filters, so that instead of each song possessing a regular strum, elevated by the occasional burst of lead... like in traditional rock, they instead took on a more swirling and intoxicating sound, as each of the different layers would eventually merge into one another to create one harmonious whole.
Fraser's approach to the vocals is similar... so there's not just one vocal track, there are a few different parts all sung in different keys and tempos, so that when each of the instruments come together, we get a song that is almost hypnotic. The songs are further fleshed out by the strong rhythms of bass-player Raymonde and that recognisable electronic-drum sound that gives the songs a further element of the unique and anachronistic. Treasure is a magnificent, if completely alien-sounding album that requires work on the part of the listener, with a few sessions required before the entirety of the album fully sinks in. The most oft-discussed element of the Cocteau's sound is that the lyrics are almost entirely incomprehensible, with Fraser's vocals (...sometimes sounding angelic, sometimes sounding like a Japanese schoolgirl on helium!!) really pushing the songs into another universe entirely. Her vocal style, although unique and problematic for some, has been a huge influence on a number of female singers over the last twenty years, most notably the aforementioned Björk (more obviously in her early days as a vocalist with The Sugarcubes), Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries and perhaps Alison Goldfrapp (particularly on some of the tracks from Felt Mountain).
Some might consider Treasure to be a difficult album, though I prefer to see it more as an album to come back to time and time again (...preferably late at night...), with each new experience exposing new ideas and interpretations that you perhaps didn't pick up on the first, second or third time. If I was going to be pretentious about it (and why not?) I'd say that Treasure is like an ancient parchment in need of translation... Plainly speaking, however, I would say that Treasure is simply one of the great alternative rock albums of the 1980's, and is a good place to start for those interested in the Cocteau Twins' sound.
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on 14 July 2000
In the early 1300's, Dante Alighieri became increasingly underwhelmed with language. He felt Latin (the written language) was artificial and furthermore, all the "natural languages" (languages used for speaking, opposed to Latin) were vulgar. He believed that this all had stemmed from the blasphemy of Babel, where God's (and Adam's) perfect, true language had splintered and fragmented and probably died. After years of research Dante decided it was impossible to find the first and perfect language so he vowed to make one himself. He felt he'd write poetry so lulling and beautiful that the rest of the world would adopt his new-language. As far as I know, he never succeeded. The Cocteau Twins, however, (and you thought I'd never get around to them) may have found what Dante had craved. Elizabeth Fraiser's "vocals" are stunningly beautiful, and one can always hear pieces of words or sentences from as many languages as are out there, I swear I have heard Dutch, French and of course English in her "lyrics" and I presume there may be a healthy dose of Gaelic, or Celtic, in some of her yodels (but I wouldn't know for sure). Most describe her form of singing as gibberish (in a good way) but I think it may be more calculated than that. I suppose it can be said she is singing in both Babylonian and Dante's imaginary language, embracing each. I dunno.
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). They will remember how hard it was to find things like this. I had searched seemingly everywhere, but couldn't find the Cocteaux, until, by chance, visiting a friend who had a neighbor, who somehow had several dusty and thick LP's. That was my introduction. Like many Cocteau Twins fans, I have nearly every release, stopping after they left 4AD. I have always considered Treasure their opus, with it's lilting melodies and richly embroidered tapestry of sound, unlike anything at the time, or since. It is every Cocteau Twins fan's hobby to try and sing along and the lyrics one comes up with are as amazing as they are varied. For instance, from Persephone "....leads a paperchase, for a timepiece never changes this..." (one of my own, now it's your turn).
There really needs no convincing, buy this album, it is simply one of the best ever made, and timeless too. I have given this album as gifts in the past to a wide range of people who have all enjoyed it. In fact, I only know one person who knows of the Cocteau Twins who does not like them, but she's really weird and dislikes most things. This is a great album for the CD format because you can put it on repeat, but I must admit, I do miss the style and slickness of 4AD albums, the vinyl was definitely thicker and heavy, they were a good label.
There is a swifter way to review this album, it's two words: BUY IT.
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on 26 July 2003
It's hard to imagine that Treasure first saw the light of day in 1984. It's so a head of it's time that it's scary. I loved it in 1984 when I first purchased it on vinyl. Firstly loving the beautiful cover (A must for all artists on the 4AD label) and then falling in love with each piece of gorgeous music.
It's hard to pick a favourite track though, simply because I truely do love them all. I love the swirl of the organ on Amelia and the slow build-up on the track Donimo. Some words you can pick out others, I'm sure, come from the wonderful imagination of Elizabeth Fraser. Brilliant.
Treasure is just that. A pure Treasure.
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on 22 November 2003
I was only 1 year old when it came out, so the Cocteau Twins didn't really come to my attention until Liz Fraser's work with Massive Attack on Mezanine. After hearing that, I was intrigued, but it wasn't until recently that i finally got round to buying something by the Cocteaus. And Treasure was it.
To be honest, it was pretty much everything I expected it to be, but I immediately fell in love with it on my first listen. For an album that's nearly 20 years old, it doesn't sound dated in the slightest (especially when you compare it with a lot of the pap that was around at the time), and the mix of Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde's music and Liz Fraser's gorgeous vocals is utterly breathtaking.
While some of the songs are better than others, none of them are of a less-than-great standard. The highlight of the album for me though has to be Pandora, this song could last forever and I would never tire of it. The opening salvo of Ivo and Lorelei is also fantasic, but the rest of the album is also of a very high quality.
I will be sampling a lot of their other albums in the near future (I very very recently got Heaven or Las Vegas and Victorialand - first impressions are really good), so I can't comment on if they've bettered this or not, but I would be amazed if they did
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on 13 August 2007
This - and absolutely anything else from the Cocteau Twin cannon - is well nigh impossible to write about. Critics and others do rather enjoy wallowing in silly adjectives trying to upstage the music. The fact is, there really is no other sound like it. Ive been a fan ever since I first heard the Sunburst and Snowblind version of Sugar Hiccup in 1984. It really is a kind of litmus test of affinities whether people think the Cocteau Twins are incredible or just "all right". This album shows them at their best (but then, so do all of them!). There has been nothing like it since. Whenever I listen to the Cocteau Twins, I just know that I shall never again enjoy music with as much intensity as I enjoyed each of their new releases, as and when they came, over the years. I still listen to them now over 20 years later. I listen to all kinds of stuff now, and am more eclectic I suppose, but nothing is ever as magical as the Cocteau Twins at their most abstracted and strange.
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VINE VOICEon 1 May 2004
Nothing had prepared us for this. On their first album, the gloomy "Garlands" the songs were laden with clunky arrangements and muddy production. "Head over Heels" gave ripe hints of possible pop epiphany, especially with the outstanding "Sugar Hiccup". But when "Treasure" arrived in 1984 it was as if the clouds had parted after five dark years of Thatcherism and the world was suddenly bathed in an all enveloping golden glow. This was incandescence in the form of 12 inches of black vinyl and it moved one critic at the time to label the Cocteau twins the "Voice of God". This is obviously pushing it a bit, especially to an atheist like me but I can understand why he wrote it. There is a celestial other world quality to "Treasure" and Liz Fraser's extraordinary vocals sound as if they are emitted by some divine being rather than a mere mortal.
Fraser's amazing vocals are the most important factor in the Cocteaus sound as they are an instrument in themselves and when multi-tracked to provide counterpoints with the melody really elevate the songs into the realms of the fabulous. One tone deaf wag likened the Cocteau Twins music to "Childish wittering over scraping guitars". The vocals are indecipherable but this does not lessen their impact and Robin Guthrie's guitar sound is fairly one dimensional, but what a sound it is. The chords seem to chime and shimmer and allied to Simon Raymonde,s sepulchral bass lines and the precise percussion courtesy of a drum machine create music of rare beauty and enduring resonance. Guthrie is notoriously sniffy about the Cocteaus back catalogue but he's no reason, he should be immensely proud of this album in particular.
Every track on "Treasure" is magnificent but "Lorelei" where Fraser pants orgasmicly over plunging bass lines and gossamer guitar lines is so gorgeous mere words can't do it justice. The rockier arrangement on "Persephone" elicits a more forceful vocal from Fraser while on "Aloysius" the guitars crash against the rhythm section like huge breakers on some far distant shore while the vocals pirouette around like a firefly. A Truly wonderful song. "Amelia" the sound and vocals roll inexorably on like a huge spangled clump of tumble weed while "Pandora" is a thing of delicate beauty the guitars twinkle like the lights on some faraway shore and Fraser's siren song vocals lure you in. "Donimo" has sleigh bells for gods sake and choir like vocals but gradually mutates in to the sort of rapturous hymn you won't find Aled Jones introducing. "Otterly" is a phantom of a song with whispered vocals and ghostly ambience. "Beatrix" sounds like a medieval folk song till Fraser's voice flies away with itself while "Cicely" has a more fractured structure with howling guitars down in the mix and a bass line that grumbles like a sore appendix."Ivo" segues in on a bubbling bass but that voice is off again, skipping and gulping in wonder as the guitar cascades around it.
You can embarrass yourself very easily where music this wonderful is concerned, as I've just proved but twenty years on it's still unique and brilliant beyond measure and it's forced me for the first time ever to actually replace something that I own on vinyl with a C.D..This album is a treasure I don't ever want to be parted from.
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on 7 April 2010
If I belived in god I would ask him to bless The great John Peel as its all his fault. This is one of the greatest albums ever writen in the modern era and It was hard to choose which is their best Album and I think Heavan or Las Vegas scrapes it but only just.
We have all done it You know what I mean. When some one asked you what type of music do you like, and you reply TYPE I like alsorts every thing from Led Zep to the Cocteau twins. Cocteau what they would say, and you would say, The cocteau Twins. Never heard of them so they can't be that good. Then you would spend the rest of the night trying to describe the Cocteau Twins music. And at the end of the night they just laugh and don't belive you, so you say to them you when I will see you tomorrow I will lend you one of their Records, and this is the record I would lend them and three days later you would get the album back with the reply Ive never heard any thing like that before it was amazing. This has happen to me 3 times. It is very hard to describe their music so you are better off lending them this album as it saves time.
So if you have never heard of the Cocteau Twins then this is the album you need to change your life.
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on 13 February 2004
I bought this album on recomendation from this site. Being a fan of The Cure and hearing this album mentioned alongside titles such as Pornography I was sure on buying it. On first listen I found it very harsh and difficult to listen to. The vocals were on a plain I could not comprehend and the drum machine was simply annoying. However after hearing it again I was overpowered by the beautifull textures, harmonies and daring, dark, chord changes. This music sinks into your soul to a painfull yet enchanting place. I reccomend it to any fan of dark, free, 80's music.
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on 5 August 2004
I have no idea how to begin to explain this one...
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. Only with repeated listening do you realise the sheer breadth of innovation on this record - I feel the urge to include the word 'Widescreen' at this point - the first time I heard it I think I was still recovering from the first track by the time it got to the end.
This isn't a very conventional review but that wasn't the point of it. I want you to buy this. I buy about 2 albums every week on average and I have done for years but the Cocteau Twins stood out so strongly that I was compelled to come and write an amazon review, and I don't write many.
I have fallen in love with this band to an almost embarrassing degree. I had a small tear in my eye on the way to work this morning with 'Heaven or Las Vegas' warming my ears, just because the music was so wonderful. As a deep-rooted cynic this does not happen to me often.
This is not a review, this is a plea - if you're considering investigating the Cocteau Twins then do. If you've never impulse-bought any cd before in your life then make it this one. The fact that you're even here reading this means you're probably not going to be disappointed.
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