Four-Calendar Cafe

Cocteau Twins

Fontana, 1993

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/01/2003

This music is far from conventional. It is ambiguous; yes, it is. In all its equivocalness, it is cold, distant... frigid. From "Know Who You Are At Every Age" to "Pur," the songs deliver the feeling of something like being cozy in one's house, near the fireplace, on a nicely curved couch, drinking an energizing cupful of steaming, frothing hot coffee whilst reading one's favorite P.G.Wodehouse masterpiece and enjoying the beauty of the sight of the raging blizzard of snow through one's beautifully-crafted French windows, and being only too glad to fit snugly in the place one is occupying.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Elizabeth Fraser's voice charms one with its softness and beckons one into its realm of tenderness, insecurity and warm-heartedness. The muffled vocals should not be taken with slipshod attention. The vocals have been sung and blended with the music, carefully attending to the minutest detail in the variation of the pitch and tone.

Cocteau Twins have always been an elusive and mysterious band. The artwork on this self-produced title is beautiful and minimal. There are no band photographs and the credits amount to just a few lines in some desolate corner of the booklet, as is the case with every album of theirs. How is this fact relevant to the music, one might ask, but it very much is. The singing of Fraser has never been less than ambiguous. The words are almost impossible to follow. When one seeks the booklet provided to help one in understanding the lyrics, one is only confronted with a feeling of dismay. There are absolutely no lyrics provided!! The booklet consists of only a couple of flaps, of no written matter whatsoever, except for just a few lines of forcefully written credits, and this is the case with every Twins' album, as stated above. With Elizabeth's beautifully, soothingly weird vocals, how can one not feel compelled to refer the booklet provided to try to figure out what the mesmerizing words sung by her are?

From the hauntingly muffled vocals to the absence of any printed lyrics, all these elements add to the mystery of this underrated band and the misery of the listener in making a futile attempt to understand the Twins' words. The beauty of this trio lies in this mysterious character of their work and attitude.

There are no 'favorite' songs, nor are there any songs which spoil the beauty of this CD. It works as an album, as a whole, with every song adding its own charm in creating this unique celestial atmosphere, which makes this album so lovable and something which holds a very special place in my CD collection.

Rating: A

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© 2003 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Fontana, and is used for informational purposes only.