Cocteau Twins – Treasure (1984): Review

treasure

Produced by Cocteau Twins
Label – 4AD

By 1984, The Cocteau Twins had thrown off the droning Siouxsie & The Banshees tag that yoked them for their previous two long players and with the aid of a new bass player (Simon Raymonde) developed a denser, more celestially orchestrated approach to their arrangements. The shifting signals for “Treasure” were clear from their successful E.P. from earlier in the year, (“The Spangle Maker”) from which the song “Pearly Dew Drop Drops” would reach number 29 in the U.K. charts. Having found their new anomalous sound they ensconced themselves to West London’s Palladium Studios to produce what for many is their finest recording. The fact that much of the content is so generically different to anything that was around at the time leaves some admirers convinced that the record floats in a lone bubble of ethereal mythology unmatched by anything before or since. Admittedly, it is an unusual record, but the rose tinted rhetoric simply doesn’t match the sense of anti climax. It’s just a fine, gentle album that falls on the angular side of Enya or Clannad. Song writer and guitarist Robin Guthrie has of course castigated its very existence stating that the band were being steered by the record company, stating “We were (being) pushed into all that arty-farty pre- Raphaelite bullshit” of which they were willing participants.

cocteau

In judging the merits of “Treasure”, one has to understand the intricate skills of Elizabeth Fraser’s voice and try to forget the lyrical nonsense that attempts to support it (barring the unforgiveable “I’m a yum yum” on “Otterley”). Her distinctive soprano ranges from edgy and tense to sweet and seductive effortlessly. The heavy overdubbing gives an echoed, almost intentionally obscure ambiance as Fraser soars and sighs. The first four songs are undoubtedly the highlights, particularly the opener (“Ivo”), which melodically feels delicately childlike, playful and warmly whimsical. Guthrie and the band cast heavy reverb and flanged effects in the washes of synthetic and organic sounds that swirl around the vocal, with Guthrie’s guitar accompaniment taking a more melodic role as opposed to the raw, industrial input of previous recordings. Unfortunately, the booming drum machine becomes a little too relentless at times and overwhelms moments that really should feel more restrained.

“Treasure” is the point at which The Cocteau Twins found their collective identity, and although they would create considerably more inviting songs later in their career, it sets the foundations and further spreads their beguiling musical mystery.

7/10

Track Rating
1 – Ivo (8)
2 – Lorelei (7)
3 – Beatrix (8)
4 – Persephone (7)
5 – Pandora (For Cindy) (7)
6 – Amelia (6)
7 – Aloysius (7)
8 – Cicely (6)
9 – Otterley (5)
10 – Donimo (7)

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2 responses to “Cocteau Twins – Treasure (1984): Review

  1. I just started getting into this record and I like it a lot! “Lorelei” is my favorite song on the album. Reminds me of My Bloody Valentine, with the hypnotic melodies and unintelligible lyrics.

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