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Cocteau Twins – Treasure (1984)

September 13, 2018

[Album 616/1001]

Multiple choice time.

Pencils ready?

Go!

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Slide1

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I found myself in this situation with Cocteau Twins.

Earlier this summer, I purchased my first Cocteau Twins album (Heaven or Las Vegas).

And I liked it.

Though I wasn’t sure what the appropriate waiting period would be before exploring Treasure.

As it’s on the 1001 list, I couldn’t choose option c).

Which left a) or b): listen right away or put it off?

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In this case, I chose a).

My reasons were two-fold:

1. When I’ve been really excited about a new-to-me artist, as with Fairport Convention, I have intentionally put off listening to another of their albums.

The rationale being, the infatuation stage of any relationship is finite.

If I instantly become smitten with an album, as I did with Liege & Lief, it’s unfair to expect another album to immediately have the same impact (or greater).

Because a follow-up album wouldn’t have the ‘gateway’ benefit, it may seem inferior as a result.

Now, it’s possible that Unhalfbricking is even better than Liege & Lief; I just chose to wait until I was less of a smitten kitten before exploring.

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2. I liked Heaven or Las Vegas.

As I wasn’t head over heels, I didn’t think my spectacles were too rose-coloured to 220px-Treasure_coversignificantly impact my experience here.

Since, most of the time, I don’t have the foggiest idea what vocalist Elizabeth Fraser is singing about, I wasn’t concerned about allowing enough time to fully process the lyrics.

After a few seconds of listening to the Treasure opener, Ivo, I was pleased to be back so soon.

6/8 time signature? Propelled by an acoustic guitar? Gorgeous voice hitting notes octaves beyond my range?

Without hesitation, I’ll answer, “yes, please” to all of the above.

And I don’t see myself waiting too long before my next Cocteau Twins exploration.

…..

Verbalize the Positive

I was thrilled to learn some new vocabulary today to describe Elizabeth Fraser’s singing.

Though I gather she is sometimes singing in English, she also sometimes sings in “puirt à beul” (mouth music).

At other times, she sings somewhere in between, as a somewhat understandable language, or “idioglossia!”

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From → 1980s

25 Comments
  1. jprobichaud permalink

    Nice! This is one of those bands that I know and would know their music instantly if it was put in front of me, but I’ve never thoroughly explored. Perhaps it’s time.

  2. I’m like that with a few bands…
    There’s a British band(Tygers of Pan Tang) that I recently picked up on vinyl with there second album released in 1981 called “Spellbound”..
    Spellbound when I heard it for the first time in decades just blew me away….
    I love this kind of Rock…
    But…
    Spellbound was Tygers second release…I have never heard the debut or the one after or do I want too.
    Kinda weird but I’m a funny old man that way…hahaha
    Still though this album resonated with me on that kind of level..
    This post was great as it made me think! HAHAHA…Now I need a Tylenol as I have a headache! haha

    • Deke – I’m becoming a funny old man then as well!
      The Darkness had the brilliant debut, Permission to Land, that (to borrow a Tygers album!), left me spellbound. But I’ve been so reluctant to explore further as it was such a special record for me I can’t expect the others to be on par!

  3. Yeah, Treasure’s great too, although it feels a lot more like a period piece than Heaven or Las Vegas. I’ve explored some of their other stuff, but those two are easily their best for me. Victorialand is another acclaimed one, but I’ve always found it a bit wispy and hard to access.

    • Interesting to see Victorialand arrives chronologically in between the two – I’ll let you know if I have any luck accessing it!

  4. Great that you enjoyed ‘Treasure’, Geoff. Having the entire CT output (including singles) I’m undoubtedly biased, and having discovered them a long time ago, biased towards the earlier material (which can sometimes be less accessible than the later stuff).

    Having said all that, I only ever play one Cocteau’s album at a sitting – there’s an intensity there (even in the whispy stuff) that can be a little exhausting.

    ‘Treasure’, incidentally, is the only one I’ve written on thus far. ‘Victorialand’ is superb, though.

    Good luck with further explorations ‘when the time is right’.

    • Well said about the one per sitting rule – it does feel like a group where one could have too much of a good thing.
      Sounds like Victorialand will be my next stop on the CT tour!

  5. I actually dance in a 6/8 time signature, regardless of the music playing – so the Cocteaus work for me.

    • I’ve always been more of a 7/4 guy myself – so I seem quite rhythmic towards the end of Paranoid Android but not on too many other occassions!

  6. Every time I read their name, my mind says Cocktail Twins. I don’t know why.

    In this case I would choose b). Too often albums are of themselves. A band can sound like themselves on the next one, but the sound can still be different enough too and you don’t wanna colour the first impression. I say let the first one simmer a while, then, when it’s in your blood and your mind, THEN go for the next one, when you can listen and notice differences without comparing, and allow the new-to-you work stand on its own…

    • Valid points in favour of b) as well – it’s funny, with every comment I read, I’m getting convinced to switch my answer!

  7. I love this album so much – it’s really perfect to listen to on a dark rainy Winter night, and ‘Lorelei’ is one of the greatest songs ever written IMO! (And I tend to go for Option B, though waiting is indeed the hardest part…)

    • Thank you for the listening context suggestion – it’s starting to get cooler here, I think Treasure would pair quite nicely with a winter evening!

      • It would indeed, it’s really nice to listen to while it’s raining and icy outside!! And lucky re the beginning of Winter! It’s already starting to seep into Summer here (we’re barely out of Winter!), which would be fine if we didn’t live in what is basically a cosmopolitan desert – we are in the driest state in Australia, so Summer is scorching 40+ degree heat for three months on end!!!

      • I hope you have air conditioning, I don’t know if I could handle 40+ degrees without it!

  8. A band I really need to explore properly. But I often jump right in to a discography when I’ve been enthusiastic about an album, so I dare say I’d have done the same as you.

    • And I just read HMO’s comment saying he’d choose a) as well – perhaps Glaswegians are more likely to jump right in, there may be a correlation!

      • We’re an enthusiastic lot, us Scots.

  9. I’m pretty much always A. I get stuck right in! I might still focus on the infatuation album but, if I’m in the zone I want to hear more. Many musical love affairs have happened that way.

    • I can appreciate that perspective – and I suppose one can never have too many musical love affairs!

  10. Glad you took on Treasure which to me is their best album. Victorialand (1986) is worth owning too for its beautiful atmosphere.
    Funny I was just thinking of Ivo because Julia Holter’s new single I Shall Love 2 has a similar feel.

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