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It is barely 38 minutes long and turned 25 years old last month. On par with Treasure for Cocteau Twins at the apex of their craft, Heaven or Las Vegas is the first album of the group's that I listened to and fell in love with.

I was introduced when someone with whom I had a brief communication in the summer of 2002 sent me an MP3 copy of "Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires." Prior to this she had insulted me for not having heard of the group. "You can't call yourself a goth boy and not have heard of the [sic] Cocteau Twins!" Whether or not this was intended as some sort of sardonic joke is irrelevant – the song turned out to be more lovely than the person who introduced it to me ever was.

In a way, having that memory is kind of perfect in association with Cocteau Twins. The music is absolutely gorgeous, but whenever Elizabeth Frasier actually lets comprehensible English words slip off of her tongue, the subject matter relates to absolute human misery. A little bitter in your sweet, there.

Is there any English on Heaven or Las Vegas? On the title cut of the LP, I think I can hear the aforementioned title sung during the chorus. As expected, pretty much everything else is left up to interpretation.

I suppose I should reflect on why I love this particular album so much, but I can't really explain it. The Cocteau Twin sound just naturally resonated with me and I suspect that when one finds a music group they click with, there is an inherit bias towards the first album by the group that was listened to – or even the first song. So, if pressed for my favourite LP and song, I'd say Heaven of Las Vegas and it's closer "Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires" with little awareness of the introductory bias which may or may not actually exist.

Regardless, I loved the sound so much that I made it essential to get my hands on everything I could and have a complete collection. This is naturally impossible, given the alternate versions and rarities floating around, but I feel that with all of the proper LPs and the compilations collecting the singles and EPs, I've grabbed all that one without unlimited means can get their hands on as a lover of music.

Heaven or Las Vegas would be Cocteau Twins last proper album for 4AD (in the United States they would remain on Capitol until the end of their career). Two more LPs would be released before their time as an active recording and touring group came to a close. Welcome to the 1990s and the dénouement…

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Seth Warren

May 2017

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