January 27, 2017

Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas (1990)


I'll throw the 'magnum opus' tag on Heaven Or Las Vegas. It's not everybody's favorite, but it is Cocteau Twins' most up-front accumulation of all the sounds they explored in the 80s--perfected with quite the accessible stride. A parallel to The Cure's Disintegration in those regards. If you're any bit a fan of the 1980s pop aesthetic, then this music will have you drooling at the heavy and spacious layering of analog synths. It's all a perfect setup for Elizabeth Fraser's dreamy vocals. I had to look up these lyrics the first time I heard this because I was so convinced she was speaking in some shit like a niche ancient form of Welsh, but no--that's just a sort-of stylized voice with a Scottish accent. Still, to my American ears, this sounds like some beautiful long-lost romance lanuage instructed by God himself to be heaven's official language. Sometimes I wish that I could understand what she was saying so I could mumble along in the car, but the sacrifice is well worth the extra-smooth vocals. All of this combined with the best, most seamless vocal overdubbing in musical history makes for a lyrical opiate more potent than fentanyl. Thankfully, the album isn't just a long, aimless river of ethereal madness either; most tracks are ruddered by confident bass and drum programming/playing. The upbeat tracks in particular have a kind of groove that might make you draw connections to New Order or even Pet Shop Boys.

Heaven Or Las Vegas is very consistent, but the tracklist is undeniably dominated by the epic title track. This song always, without fail up to this point, induces goosebumps for me. Like, if I was ever doing a soundtrack for a film and there was a dramatic ending scene where the troubled main character tragically overdoses on heroin, I would use this song (I'm nearing the end of House M.D. right now and it better fade out with this song or else). Seriously, this song is the musical equivalent of cloning yourself a hundred times and turning into a angel fairy or some shit--with the ability to feel all of your clones' pleasures while they had sex with and shared simultaneous orgasms with a hundred Tinkerbells... ...all portrayed by Daisy Ridley. That's right mothafucka. If you haven't listened to Heaven Or Las Vegas, I hope that those overexaggerated descriptions of the title track don't ruin the song for you or draw you away from how consistent and impressive this whole album is. I'm not really big into dream pop in the first place, but Heaven Or Las Vegas is way up there in my theoretical rankings and far-and-away better than anything else I've heard from the genre.