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Released four years after Time and the Maiden, but only two years after Claire Voyant was signed to Metropolis Records, Love Is Blind is the group's third studio album. The official release date was September 24th, 2002 and judging by Metropolis' failure to send a copy to WAIH, the label didn't seem to have any interest in promoting it like they did the remix disc Time Again. CMJ Weekly seemed to have lost interest in the group as well, as there was no mention of a new album in their hallowed and influential pages.

I found out from my then long-distance girlfriend that Claire Voyant had released a new album and ended up having to special order it from the local CD store. It's a shame that the label didn't push this harder – if at all, but then again Metropolis tends more towards grinding beats than gossamer beauty. For people like me who mope about that the Cocteau Twins are no longer releasing records, this is manna from heaven.

The album opens with "Pieces," which is probably the most dancefloor-friendly thing Claire Voyant ever recorded before the remixers got their hands on any of their songs. "Twenty-Four Years" brings them back to the mid-tempo grandeur of their previous albums and we stay there through "Mirror," "Abyss" and "Silence" (not a cover of the Delerium/Sarah McLachlan collaboration).

If we are to divide the ten songs of Love Is Blind like a record, "Silence" would close the first half with a bit of high drama. Victoria Lloyd's voice reaches into the heavens while strings and backing "ahhs" pulse and push through the majority of the song. It is what vinyl aficionados would refer to as a "side-turner."

We sway back into more melancholy moods with the second half opener, "He Is Here," but then the band takes an unexpected turn with "Close To Me" (not a cover of The Cure). It's a somewhat unusual song for Claire Voyant, their usual Cocteau Twins vibe sounding like it was invaded by Garbage and then Santigold broke into the studio to mash portions of "L.E.S. Artistes" in there. My DJ brain says that this one would be good to put on at the club when people have gotten a drink or two in and a few early pioneers are starting to wander towards the dance floor.

The title cut, "Love Is Blind," closes the set in an understated manner. Lloyd is almost whispering through most of the song. It sounds like she is writing a letter to a lover who may be there in person, but who emotionally may as well be lost in space. Who hasn't been there?

To date, Claire Voyant has released one more album: 2009's Lustre. Seven years is a long gap between albums and I should probably grab this one before it goes out of print. The band seems to have been on hiatus since 2010, with only sparse Twitter and Facebook posts to indicate any signs of life.

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Seth Warren

May 2017

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