Scotland Week: Top 9 Essential Cocteau Twins Songs
We have had a special theme on Under the Radar's website over the last week which we're simply calling Scotland Week. All throughout the week we have been posting interviews, reviews, lists, and blog posts relating to Scotland and in particular Scottish music. Here's a list of the Top 9 essential Cocteau Twins songs. The legendary dream pop band was founded in Grangemouth, Scotland in 1979 by Robin Guthrie, Elizabeth Fraser, and Will Heggie (who left in 1983 and was replaced by Simon Raymonde). Read our recent interview with Guthrie and Raymonde on the creation of their album Blue Bell Knoll. And read on as Mack Hayden breaks down his favorite Cocteau Twins songs.
I've always thought it was kind of fitting I first really got into Cocteau Twins after finishing David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks. Perhaps it's because the tone of their music so closely matches the tone of that series. It's alternately dark and heavenly, making beauty out of the purgatory we most often call the planet earth.
Like Twin Peaks, Cocteau Twins always feels too off-kilter to be familiar and too comforting to be foreboding. Cocteau Twins never so much mapped out a new sound as they did use a sonic palate that was limitless and infinite. They paint with the kind of colors that fall outside the spectrum we're used to and make us feel like we're reaching beyond ourselves into some transcendent mystery. At the center of their music is Robin Guthrie's eternal and effects-laden guitar work and Elizabeth Fraser's angelic, delicate and difficult-to-understand vocal style. Together, they created music as vast and awesome as a stormy ocean and as bizarrely meaningful as the night sky's constellations. There are songs on the first couple records which sound so foreboding that they could've been played with the tentacles of Cthulhu but by the time you get to albums such as Treasure or Heaven or Las Vegas, they're coming up with tracks which would inspire Kevin Shields, Robert Smith, and God himself alike.
If you haven't dove into their work yet, here's nine songs (one from each of their records, in chronological order) that will get you standing on the shoulders of these dream pop giants. By Mack Hayden
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