Cocteau Twins

Heaven or Las Vegas

Composed by Cocteau Twins

Song Review by

The Cocteau Twins' return to form with its Heaven or Las Vegas album was encapsulated in the title track, a majestic number that effortlessly showed the band's collective strengths while at the same time adding some new twists to its long-established formula. For one thing, Elizabeth Fraser's singing is remarkably clear and direct; while certainly she's not perfectly understandable (and part of her appeal is how she can make hard-to-interpret lyrics so emotionally gripping), it does add an extra heft to the proceedings. Guitarist Robin Guthrie and bassist Simon Raymonde create music similarly elegant and beautiful as ever, but stripping back on the echo just a touch in favor of letting the main melodies carry through. Raymonde's loping, classically post-punk work fits the drum machine beat to a T while retaining its own beauty, while Guthrie's descending notes in the verse turn into a gripping main wash on the chorus. The final brilliant touch comes courtesy of a second chorus that appears twice, in the middle and at the end. Fraser first sings some inspiring, rising vocals, then Guthrie finishes with a series of simple, soaring notes that are as flat-out lovely (yet powerful) as it gets.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Heaven or Las Vegas 1990 4AD
Rock the First, Vol. 10 1996
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 4:57
Stars and Topsoil: A Collection 1982-1990 2000 4AD
Made in Scotland 2014
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:57
blue highlight denotes editor's pick