1988, Music

Blue Bell Knoll (1988) by Cocteau Twins

In my mind, I had confused the Cocteau Twins with the Thompson Twins, so this record was a surprise. (Such a surprise, the moment the first track came on, I had to google them to clarify what was happening.) So instead of getting synthpop, I got dream pop!

I will say that the kind of music Cocteau Twins make is not normally my kind of music, it’s not something I would have listened to without my podcast and if I knew what it was, without a recommendation. But I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anything quite like this.

The songs are catchy, which is important when you can’t understand the lyrics. But the thing that really surprises me is how upbeat and energetic the songs are. So much dream pop sacrifices energy for mood and feel but not so here, which is a pleasant surprise.

The band seems to have found a way to create a sheen that reflects Fraser’s unique voice. The guitars are appropriately high and shimmery, and the bass is also often played higher up or mixed lower. (Also, those drums are mixed pretty high for this kind of record.)

This album sounds too much like the 1980s for me and I suspect that, were its most ’80s touches not there, I’d like it even more than I do. But it was still a very pleasant surprise.

7/10

All tracks written by Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie, and Simon Raymonde.

  1. “Blue Bell Knoll” 3:24
  2. “Athol-Brose” 2:59
  3. “Carolyn’s Fingers” 3:08
  4. “For Phoebe Still a Baby” 3:16
  5. “The Itchy Glowbo Blow” 3:21
  6. “Cico Buff” 3:49
  7. “Suckling the Mender” 3:35
  8. “Spooning Good Singing Gum” 3:52
  9. “A Kissed Out Red Floatboat” 4:10
  10. “Ella Megalast Burls Forever” 3:39

  • Elizabeth Fraser – vocals
  • Robin Guthrie – guitar
  • Simon Raymonde – bass guitar

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