Cocteau Twins

Garlands

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AllMusic Review by

Those hearing Garlands for the first time who only know the band's other material will likely be more than a little surprised. Whereas the typical vision of the Twins is of beautiful washes of sounds and exultant vocals from Fraser, on Garlands the trio is still only part of the way there. Instead, the best comparison points are to the Cure on Faith and Pornography, perhaps Metal Box-era PiL, a touch of Joy Division here and there -- in sum, deep, heavy mood verging on doom and gloom. Bassist Will Heggie, in the only full album he did with the Twins, clearly follows the Peter Hook/Simon Gallup style of low, ominous throb, while Guthrie's guitar work more often than not screeches loudly than shimmers. Fraser's singing has a starker edge, unsettling even at its most accessible, sometimes completely disturbing at other times. The strongest track, "Wax and Wane," has the trio creating a powerful but also surprisingly danceable track, the crisp drumbox beat working against Guthrie's compelling atmospherics and Fraser's vocal hook in the chorus. Beyond that and a couple of other moments, though, Garlands falters due to something the band generally avoided in the future -- overt repetition. Too many of the songs rely on a unified formula that rarely changes; one need only compare to the multiplicity of styles tried on Head Over Heels to see the difference. As a debut effort, though, Garlands makes its own curious mark, preparing the band for greater heights.

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