Released on November 1st, 1984 – exactly one year after Head Over Heals - was Cocteau Twins' third and probably most aptly named album: Treasure. Every group with a long discography has a "defining album," the one you tell newcomers to listen to first to gauge whether or not they will actually like a band (and whether or not said newcomer is to be mocked for their "taste"). In Treasure, Cocteau Twins' post-punk past collides with and acquiesces to their dream-pop destiny. Back to being a trio with the addition of bassist Simon Raymonde to the duo of Elizabeth Frazier and Robin Guthrie, this is the line-up which defined the group for the rest of their career.
I don't remember when or where I bought my copy of this album, only that it has been in my collection seemingly forever (though I do know it wasn't the first Cocteau Twins disc I purchased). "Ivo" (perhaps a nod to 4AD owner Ivo Russell-Watts) opens the set followed by "Lorelei." These two songs immediately bring the album up to the heavens; I can only imagine a cathedral being the only appropriate venue for them to be performed in.
"Beatrix" pulls back a little bit, lacking in percussion but increasing the gothic moodiness. "Persephone" brings the beats back, the song a sibling to "When Mama Was Moth," albeit slightly more uptempo and slightly less intense. I listen to it and love it, but my brain still foolishly tries to understand the lyrics, as if there are really any to actually be understood. "Paper chase is on, join the rat-race, for a timepiece never changes face" – is one of many phrases I've mentally moulded out of Fraziers sung syllables.
"Pandora (for Cindy)" is pure dream-pop and quite a contrast to "Persephone." On my copy of Treasure, there is actually a three second gap between the two songs, as if a breather is needed before the mood changes. Intensity gives was to relaxation and haste to breeziness.
And that is how side A of the record closes. Side B opens with "Amelia," a song which doesn't take us too far from its predecessor. "Aloysius" is perhaps the song with the most open space on the set (it's also the second time you hear a 4/4 beat on the record). While reverb is still prevalent and the guitars still shimmer, there are more rests in many of the instruments – slightly more breathing room.
A gothic ambience returns with "Cicely," but the spidery guitars lines of Garlands have been married to the shimmering which would define the group henceforth. Still, this is the song where Frazier sounds most like Siouxsie Sioux on this record.
"Otterley" is a downright slow piece. There is not so much singing as there is whispering throughout it. If I were cast adrift in a small, leaky rowboat down a foggy river in the middle of the forest at night, this is pretty much what would be playing in my head (in between flashes of terror at the realisation that I'm probably not too many steps away from either drowning, being devoured or getting horribly maimed or killed).
Closing song "Donimo," takes the outro of "Otterley" and slowly glides to a choir of Elizabeth Fraziers (it sounds like her voice was multi-tracked in any case). The build is deliberate before exploding into a mid-tempo 8/8 beat where the kick is on 2. The song ebbs and flows but brings things into the stratosphere as it concludes the album. We've come full-circle and the record is perfectly balanced.
For me, this is a five-star album. I enjoy listening to this all the way through and have no desire to reach for the skip button or even put it on shuffle play. Each individual song is perfect in its own right and all ten tracks are in the correct order. The musical journey is extremely satisfying with just the right amount of contrast and turns to keep things interesting but not arresting.
Had Treasure never been recorded and released, we might have never had Lush, Miranda Sex Garden or Claire Voyant. What a pity that would be.