Cocteau Twins History


Cocteau Twins formed in Grangemouth, Scotland, in 1980. Originally consisting of guitarist Robin Guthrie and bassist Will Heggie supplemented by a drum machine, they were soon joined by vocalist Elizabeth Fraser. After getting a demo to Ivo Watts-Russell, head of fledgling indie label 4AD Records, the band soon became 4AD's flagship group.

The first Cocteau Twins album, Garlands (June, 1982) finds the band still developing their sound, using more conventional vocals and song structures than their later work would follow. A pair of EPs, Lullabies and Peppermint Pig showed some movement toward their signature sound, which was first properly heard on Head Over Heels (August, 1983), and an accompanying EP Sunburst and Snowblind. A stand-alone single Pearly Dewdrops' Drops, titled The Spangle Maker in EP form, confirmed the band's mastery of a new form of music.

The third album, Treasure (October, 1984) is often regarded as one of their best releases, followed by the exotic Aikea-Guinea EP. The sister EPs Tiny Dynamine and Echoes in a Shallow Bay from the fall of 1985 were soon followed by The Pink Opaque collection (January, 1986), which gathered many noteworthy early tracks, and through a deal with Relativity included the first U.S. release of this material. The band's fourth album, Victorialand (April, 1986) continued the themes developed on their recent EPs. Love's Easy Tears marked a shift to more energetic material, counterbalanced by The Moon and the Melodies, a collaboration with ambient artist Harold Budd, originally developed as a soundtrack for a project which was never produced.

The band signed with Capitol Records in the U.S., the first release from which was the album Blue Bell Knoll (October, 1988)

In August of 1990 the band released the single Iceblink Luck, and its parent album Heaven or Las Vegas, which met with very positive critical reception.

In 1992 Guthrie and Fraser participated in the charity project Peace Together, with Guthrie producing and Fraser singing on "Be Still."

By 1993 the Cocteau Twins and 4AD parted ways, with the band signing a new deal with Fontana/Phonogram in the UK, and staying with Capitol in the U.S. The first recordings from this new partnership included the album Four Calendar Cafe, with its singles Evangeline and Bluebeard. A non-LP holiday single, Snow, was also issued during this period, with all three singles featuring photographs by Walter Wick. The band's final album was Milk & Kisses, with the singles Twinlights, Tishbite, and Violaine, as well as the Otherness EP, featuring versions of old and new tracks.

The first post-breakup release was the most essential. Bella Union collected the sessions the Twins had recorded for various BBC programs, including John Peel, Kid Jensen, Saturday Night Live, Mark Radcliffe, and Robert Elms, releasing them as the BBC Sessions 2-CD collection (October, 1999). Two career retrospectives followed, the 18-track Stars and Topsoil: A Collection (1982-1990) (October, 2000), and the more comprehensive Lullabies to Violaine: Singles and Extended Plays 1982-1996 4-CD box set (November, 2005). A limited box set of 5 albums was released in June of 2010, including Head Over Heels/Sunburst and Snowblind, Head Over Heels, Garlands, and Treasure.



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