My daughter, Amélie turns two years old today, which was how old I became when the Cocteau Twins' 1982 debut LP, Garlands was released. The album was released in June, my birthday is in November. Garlands does not sound like a summer record.
Kind of like how Amélie doesn't seem like a summer baby. Compared to her big sister, Madeline, she's moodier and those moods are more intense. The older girl is – and has always been – more laid back. It makes me think these two were born in seasons opposite their dispositions.
Garlands openers "Blood Bitch" and "Wax And Wane" were played fairly often at Ceremony when the night still existed, I still attended and it still had a couple of old school DJs. "Grail Overfloweth" seems to be a favourite of the mixmakers on 8Tracks.
For me to reiterate the history of those group would be pointless here. Cocteau Twins have one of the most comprehensive band websites online and the page for Garlands is no exception. As far as I'm concerned, this is what a band website should look like and how it should function. Funny how a group who disbanded over fifteen years ago and who had a reputation for being media-shy and somewhat enigmatic is so open in the digital age.
I bought my copy of Garlands from the used bin at Eide's Music in Pittsburgh's Strip District. According to the sticker still affixed to the case, it cost me $7.50 plus tax. Since I own the United States version, the album barely clocks in at 33 minutes – almost an EP rather than an album. Canada and the United Kingdom got more robust releases (if you purchased the cassette or compact disc).
When I think of Cocteau Twins, the words "primarily purveyors of dream pop" generally come to mind. However, Garlands is very post-punk. Elizabeth Frasier's voice is unmistakably distinctive, but it is a shock to have it surrounded by spidery basslines and creaky moaning-organ guitars. The drum machine, of course, remained a fixture but became less lo-fidelity as the years went on. In some respects, it sounds like a Siouxsie & the Banshees album from around the same era with doses of Metal Box Public Image Ltd.
I am always intrigued by debut albums by bands with a generous discography. When a group releases enough material, they nearly always become their own subgenre. To go all the way back to the beginning and to be able to easily pick out roots and influences is like being in a time warp. Yes, I can see the future, but what would it have been like to buy this record in 1982 when it was the only one in existence?
Well, it would have been like buying a record by a new band, obviously. Then, ten years later, when one was listening to Heaven or Las Vegas and waiting for Four Calendar Café to come out you could say, "wow! This band has been around for ten years!" That seems to be how it plays out: I'm looking at albums that were released when I was a teenager and despite the obvious fact that time marches on, still find myself having to accept the fact that, yes, time has passed and albums I considered new are now thought or as "classics" or "gold" or merely "archival." Then again, I buy albums from when I was younger than that – if I was even born at all. I never found my parents music collection all that great, despite containing music from similar years as my collection, my music version of the 1980s sounds nothing like theirs did.
My daughters will probably just think it odd that I still buy physical media and go through the trouble of converting it to digital instead of just buying digital in the first place.