Cocteau Twins — Garlands (1982, Reissue 2020)UK flag       Cocteau Twins — Garlands (1982, Reissue 2020) ✹14th Tais Awards ✹ 2021 ✹ NOMINATED ALBUM ✹
 →  “Garlands is a front~row seat at the birth of something astonishing.” — Q 
 →  “They sound bloody marvelous… There’s no better time to get reacquainted with this pioneering Scottish band’s exemplary and wonderfully idiosyncratic back catalogue.” — Electronic Sound
 →  “A band as elusive as Cocteau Twins is, to some extent, all loose ends — the kind of silvery threads they unravel behind them tend to lead deeper into their labyrinth… With all Cocteaus LP back in print, it’s (now) as gathered in as their still~mysterious music can be.” —  MOJO (Vinyl Package of the Month)
 →  Today Victorialand and Garlands are reissued on vinyl. Both represses will be pressed on 140g black vinyl, using audio remastered from the original analogue tapes and with art faithful to their original 23 Envelope designs. Download codes are included with both.       
Location: Grangemouth, Scotland
Studio: Palladium Studios, Edinburgh, Scotland
Genre: Gothic rock, ethereal wave, post~punk
Album release: March 20th, 2020
Record Label: 4ad
Duration:     35:51
1. Blood Bitch   4:40
2. Wax and Wane   4:04
3. But I’m Not   2:43
4. Blind Dumb Deaf   4:05
5. Shallow Then Halo   5:15
6. The Hollow Men   5:04
7. Garlands   4:30
8. Grail Overfloweth   5:30 
♦     Garlands was the Cocteau Twins’ debut album, released in the early autumn of 1982. It was the only album they made with original bassist Will Heggie. Describing it as “haunting”, “spellbound”, “diaphanous”, and discerning a “frosting of sweetness”, the critics wore out their adjectives; this was rock music — just — but it was conjured in the unlikeliest environment from the strangest of material.
♦     Those hearing Garlands for the first time who only know the band’s other material will likely be more than a little surprised. Whereas the typical vision of the Twins is of beautiful washes of sounds and exultant vocals from Fraser, on Garlands the trio is still only part of the way there. Instead, the best comparison points are to the Cure on Faith and Pornography, perhaps Metal Box~era PiL, a touch of Joy Division here and there — in sum, deep, heavy mood verging on doom and gloom. Bassist Will Heggie, in the only full album he did with the Twins, clearly follows the Peter Hook/Simon Gallup style of low, ominous throb, while Guthrie’s guitar work more often than not screeches loudly than shimmers. Fraser’s singing has a starker edge, unsettling even at its most accessible, sometimes completely disturbing at other times. The strongest track, “Wax and Wane,” has the trio creating a powerful but also surprisingly danceable track, the crisp drumbox beat working against Guthrie’s compelling atmospherics and Fraser’s vocal hook in the chorus. Beyond that and a couple of other moments, though, Garlands falters due to something the band generally avoided in the future — overt repetition. Too many of the songs rely on a unified formula that rarely changes; one need only compare to the multiplicity of styles tried on Head Over Heels to see the difference. As a debut effort, though, Garlands makes its own curious mark, preparing the band for greater heights.
♣     Premier album des Cocteau Twins publié en septembre 1982 sur le label 4AD, Garlands pose les jalons de ce fameux son mêlant post~punk, shoegaze et dream pop que le gang écossais développera jusqu’au début des années 90. Au chant, la grande Liz Fraser impose déjà un charisme rêveur totalement atypique. Même si les aigus virtuoses seront pour plus tard, sa voix fonctionne déjà comme un aimant sur lequel vient se plaquer le mur du son conçu par son complice Robin Guthrie. Comme une sorte de chant de baleine lui aussi bien envoûtant, son jeu de guitare noisy et blindé de réverbération peint de grandes toiles électriques souvent impressionnistes. Guthrie pilote aussi les machines et notamment une TR~808 assez omniprésente, parfait contrepoids clinique à l’onirisme du binôme chant/guitare. Enfin, la basse est tenue par Will Heggie qui quittera le navire dans la foulée, remplacé en 1984 par Simon Raymonde, plus inspiré dans ce domaine. Avec le recul, et même si Garlands reste un grand disque des années 80, ces Cocteau Twins~là se cherchent encore un peu. Sans doute trop scotchés qu’ils sont à l’univers de Siouxsie & The Banshees et The Cure. Mais très vite, Liz Fraser et Robin Guthrie couperont le cordon avec la cold wave et élargiront à l’infini la palette de leurs couleurs pour signer des merveilles comme Treasure (1984), Victorialand (1986), Blue Bell Knoll (1988) et Heaven or Las Vegas (1990). © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
≡ζ≡   Garlands (1982)
≡ζ≡   Head over Heels (1983)
≡ζ≡   Treasure (1984)
≡ζ≡   Victorialand (1986)
≡ζ≡   The Moon and the Melodies (1986) (in collaboration with Harold Budd)
≡ζ≡   Blue Bell Knoll (1988)
≡ζ≡   Heaven or Las Vegas (1990)
≡ζ≡   Four~Calendar Café (1993)
≡ζ≡   Milk & Kisses (1996)