Thursday, May 17, 2018

Music for Lovers

Never was there an artist who captured unrequited love like Robert Smith in "A Thousand Hours" and "Just One More Time" from the LP Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. These are angst ridden and beautiful poems that stand alongside Shelley and Keats. And Morrissey's funny aloofness was gut-wrenching. We had choices back then, the sour dirges of the big three (Cure, Smiths, JD) or the peppy poppy playfulness of Haircut 100, Altered Images and ABC. The third tine of this trident, Cocteau Twins and the 4AD contingent, were for lovers. This was late night, gaze into one another's eyes music, like Death Cab. The concept sounds sappy now, and why, because we are, in the new millennium, too cool for love.




According to The Guardian, "Pop was always Elizabeth Fraser's escape. Back in Grangemouth, a horrendous petrochemical town in Stirlingshire, she seemed destined to follow her mother into the local rag trade until she realized that having 'boxing gloves for hands' meant she could barely operate the machines. She would go dancing at a local club, the Nash, which is where she met Robin Guthrie; he spotted the 17-year-old Fraser on the dance floor one night in 1980 and asked her to join the band he'd started with his friend Will Heggie. By saying yes, Fraser acquired a soulmate and an enabler. 'I looked up to him. I could never have done it without him.' The distinctive sound they developed 'flowed from the chemistry between us,' particularly once Simon Raymonde, a Londoner, replaced Heggie."

So many people swear by their influence, claiming that they swept them off their feet on first listen. The indefinable beauty of the melodies combined with the utter indecipherability of Fraser's lyrics to form some sort of nondescript parable.  Her vocal dexterity segues seamlessly into Guthrie's dreamy guitars, creating a cacophony of harmonious noise. Cocteau Twins is one of the few bands that can guide you to another world. That netherland of their third album, Treasure, is oddly familiar, but still like nothing anyone has ever heard or felt. The song titles refer to Greek mythology, some have meaning in an estranged folklore, yet in the end there's no point of reference to anything in the "real" world. Liz Fraser's ethereal voice sings beautiful, unique, lullaby-like melodies over a mat of Robin Guthrie's guitar work, creating a dream you haven't dreamt before. It was music you put on for intimacy, a music that allowed you to lose your virginity over and again; not since "The Great Gig in the Sky" had there been so many utterances of "Oh my God, Oh my God" in its presence. If Heaven exists (which it does… discuss…), this is the music they play.

And for me it was 1986's Love's Easy Tears (AM10, EP)  that perfected the ethereal carnality of it, angel trumpets and devil trombones (to borrow from Alex), this EP was the epitome of "leaving them with less," the listener yearning for more, yet when there is a song like "Those Eyes, That Mouth," why would anyone even try for more? There is no more, really, to say than "Those Eyes, That Mouth," (Keats and Yeats were on her side….).  Oddly, it wasn't till many, many years later that I came to the realization that the song had lyrics, real lyrics, mind you; imagine that:


He draws his horses
Pretend your anger
And draws his horses
Being chosen also

Please get up
Fall, please get up
Fall, please get up
Don't ruin yourself

So see and hear
Sultitan itan
So see and hear
Plain tiger iger

In my heart
Set you right up
In my heart
I sing this song

Back you up
How messed I am
Back you up
I consider

So he got up
I must see him
I must see him
And all got up

Sore got he
Apalled got up
Apalled got up
I'm in this song

So see and hear
Sultitan itan
So see and hear
Plain tiger iger

And my defeat and hope 
And sad and hope 
Might not feel down
Don't listen, now