Cocteau Twins: Victorialand (4AD) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, November 28th, 2022  

Victorialand

4AD

Apr 20, 2020 Cocteau Twins Bookmark and Share


Four years on from their debut Garlands, Cocteau Twins had become an established act on the UK alternative scene. Two albums and eight EPs followed hot on the heels of Garlands. Each and every one a stark and refreshing step on from its predecessor whilst still retaining the opulent beauty and sheer originality that made Cocteau Twins one of the most invigorating musical ensembles to emerge from the 1980s.

While its three predecessors all highlighted different facets of the band’s creative ingenuity, 1986’s Victorialand represented a marked progression from anything the band had released before. If the two EPs released six months prior to Victorialand offered a hint of what was to come next—Tiny Dynamine and Echoes in a Shallow Bay, both essentially a collection of experimental demo recordings to test the sonic capabilities of the band’s new studio—the album itself proved to be an endearing affirmation of the adage “less is more.”

With regular bass player Simon Raymonde on extra curricular duties with This Mortal Coil, Victorialand sees Cocteau Twins at their most stripped back. Although not exactly an acoustic album in its most pedantic form—Cocteau Twins never really did acoustic records—Victorialand is as bare a document as its creators ever mustered.

Recorded without bass and percussion, instead focusing on acoustic guitars occasionally accompanied by Richard Thomas on saxophone and tuba. Victorialand lets the confines of its surroundings provide the atmospherics over Robin Guthrie’s signature melodies, while Elizabeth Fraser’s flawless vocal performance throughout guides each of its nine pieces into a blissful state of tranquillity.

If anything, Victorialand heralded the birth of ambient rock that would see Enya have a number one hit record two years later with the not entirely un-Cocteaus sounding “Orinoco Flow” while a whole new genre later to be known as shoegaze blew up around it on both sides of the Atlantic.

So it’s a welcome vinyl reissue for an album that celebrates its 34th birthday in October. Not to mention the first time it’s been available on 33 as opposed to its initial pressing on 45, the remastering having a rare, noticeable impact on this occasion. (www.cocteautwins.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 8/10



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Gerald
June 19th 2021
6:31am

Recorded without bass and percussion, instead focusing on acoustic guitars occasionally accompanied by Richard Thomas on saxophone and tuba.

- Retaining Walls