Cocteau Twins: Treasure

I had a very brief encounter with Cocteau Twins back in high school.

My friends and I were exploring all kinds of music back then — just something to serve as antidote to Milli Vanili and MC Hammer dug by all the fashionable kids at the time.

For me, that meant Kronos Quartet, Stephen Sondheim, Philip Glass and John Zorn. For my friends, that meant Erasure, the Smiths, the Dead Milkmen and Cocteau Twins.

Cocteau Twins came as a recommendation to one of my friends from his cousin in college. I was in his car when he put on the cassette tape (remember those?).

I may have heard only one or two tracks in that ride, but it certainly left an indelible impression.

I didn’t follow up for another 20 years because I was still exploring stuff on my own.

Fashion has come full circle, and now a new generation of bands are reaching kids born at the time of their influences. It’s the perfect environment to revisit Cocteau Twins, particularly Treasure.

Singer Elizabeth Glaser has no equal. Her phonetic singing is so singular, everyone has had enough sense not to try to replicate it. A web search on the band’s lyrics produces some interesting interpretations from fans.

Myself, I rather like being kept in the dark. I don’t understand Spanish, but that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of Café Tacvba.

The Roland drum machine dates the material on this album, but the band’s arrangements still sound remarkably timeless. Guitarist Robin Guthrie created some versatile timbres on his instrument, making the roughest distortion sound sweet and the brightest reverb sound other-worldly.

No particular track stood out for me, mainly because I enjoyed Treasure as an entire album. It’s so steeped in creating an atmosphere, it would almost be like breaking a spell to pinpoint any particular part.

"Persephone", though, stands out because Fraser actually sounds slightly discernible.

Personally, I think I would have dug Cocteau Twins if I had gotten into them when I was a teenager. But I don’t think I would have appreciated them as much now that I’m an adult.

There’s nuance in the music I’m perceiving now than I would have then, when I was searching for something to shut out New Kids on the Block.

The classicism, the timbres — they speak to my inner high school student, but they make more sense to my grown-up ears.

In short, Treasure is a nice discovery.