Cocteau Twins were a Scottish goth/dream-pop trio that was active for 16 years, starting in 1981. Between 1982 and 1990, the band released six albums and assorted EPs on 4AD. Two additional longplayers appeared on Fontana during the 1990s.
The Cocteau Twins trace to 1979 when Grangemouth teenagers Robin Guthrie (guitars, drum machine) and Will Heggie (bass) formed a partnership. They took their name from an unrecorded song performed by an earlier Scottish punk band, Johnny and the Self Abusers, the precursor to Simple Minds and the Cuban Heels. (The song was repurposed as “No Cure,” which appears on Simple Minds’ debut album Life In a Day.)
In 1981, the pair met 17-year-old Elizabeth Frazer, who sported an arm tattoo of Siouxsie and the Banshees. She became their vocalist, despite having never considered a career in music. The trio signed to 4AD, an independent label with a growing roster of proto-goth and ethereal post-punk acts like Bauhaus, In Camera, Mass, and Modern English.
The Cocteau Twins released one album and and an EP with their original lineup. A standalone track, “Perhaps Some Other Aeon,” appears on An Hour of Eloquent Sounds, a multi-artist cassette compilation on the Pleasantly Surprised label with cuts by The Birthday Party, the Marine Girls, Primal Scream, and The Wake.
The Cocteau Twins released their debut album, Garlands, on July 10, 1982, on 4AD.
In October 1982, the Cocteau Twins released Lullabies, an EP with three new originals: “Feathers-Oar-Blades,” “Alas Dies Laughing,” and “It’s All But an Ark Lark.”
The Cocteau Twins issued their second EP as a trio. Bassist Will Heggie left the band and later surfaced in Lowlife. Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie continued as a duo and made a second album and a third EP as the Cocteau Twins. In late 1983, they hired new bassist Simon Raymonde.
On April 4, 1983, the Cocteau Twins released Peppermint Pig, an EP with three new originals: “Peppermint Pig,” “Laugh Lines,” and “Hazel.” This is their final recording with original bassist Will Heggie.
Head Over Heels
The Cocteau Twins released their second album, Head Over Heels, on October 24, 1983, on 4AD. This is their first of two non-consecutive albums as a duo.
Sunburst and Snowblind
On November 7, 1983, the Cocteau Twins released Sunburst and Snowblind, an EP with “Sugar Hiccup” and three new originals: “From the Flagstones,” “Hitherto,” and “Because of Whirl-Jack.” This is their second of two releases as a duo.
The Cocteau Twins secured a new bassist, Simon Raymonde, formerly of the post-punk band Drowning Craze, which issued the 1981–82 singles “Storage Case,” “Trance,” and “Heat” on small-press Situation 2.
The ‘classic’ Cocteau Twins lineup of Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie, and Raymonde would last thirteen years.
In 1984, the Cocteau Twins released their fourth EP and their third album. A standalone track, “Millimillenary,” appears on Department of Enjoyment, an NME compilation with cuts by Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, The Moodists, Orange Juice, The Smiths, Wah!, The Waterboys, and a collaborative track by onetime Soft Machine bandmates Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper (“Amber & The Amberines”).
The Spangle Maker
On April 2, 1984, the Cocteau Twins released The Spangle Maker, an EP with three new originals: “The Spangle Maker,” “Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops,” and “Pepper-Tree.” This is their first release with new bassist Simon Raymonde.
The Cocteau Twins released their third album, Treasure, on November 1, 1984, on 4AD.
The Cocteau Twins released three EPs in 1985. Each one topped the UK Indie Chart.
On March 4, 1985, the Cocteau Twins released Aikea-Guinea, an EP with four new originals: “Aikea-Guinea,” “Kookaburra,” “Quisquose,” and “Rococo.”
On November 15, 1985, the Cocteau Twins released Tiny Dynamine, an EP with four new originals: “Pink Orange Red,” “Ribbed and Veined,” “Plain Tiger,” and “Sultitan Itan.”
Echoes in a Shallow Bay
On November 29, 1985, the Cocteau Twins released Echoes in a Shallow Bay, an EP with four new originals: “Great Spangled Fritillary,” “Melonella,” “Pale Clouded White,” and “Eggs and Their Shells.”
The Cocteau Twins released their fourth studio album and their eighth EP. By now, they had gained a US following via college radio, despite the non-release of their output in North America. As an introduction to the band for stateside listeners, the US Relativity Records label issued The Pink Opaque, a ten-song compilation drawn from the Cocteau’s 1982–85 catalog.
The Cocteau Twins released their fourth album, Victorialand, in April 1986 on 4AD. Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie recorded this album as a duo without Simon Raymonde, who retained his membership but abstained from the project to work on Filigree & Shadow, the second album by the 4AD in-house collective This Mortal Coil.
Love’s Easy Tears
On September 1, 1986, the Cocteau Twins released The Spangle Maker, an EP with four new originals: “Love’s Easy Tears,” “Orange Appled,” “Those Eyes, That Mouth,” and “Sigh’s Smell of Farewell.” This would be their last EP until 1993.
Blue Bell Knoll
The Cocteau Twins released their fifth album, Blue Bell Knoll, on September 19, 1988, on 4AD.
Heaven or Las Vegas
The Cocteau Twins released their sixth album, Heaven or Las Vegas, on September 17, 1990, 4AD.
The Cocteau Twins lifted “Iceblink Luck” as the first single, backed with the non-album tracks “Mizake the Mizan” and “Watchlar.”
An edit of “Heaven or Las Vegas” (3:59) became the album’s second single, backed with the elusive track “Dials”.
- Garlands (1982)
- Head Over Heels (1983)
- Treasure (1984)
- Victorialand (1986)
- Blue Bell Knoll (1988)
- Heaven or Las Vegas (1990)
- Discogs: Cocteau Twins
- Scottish Albums Directory (page 2)
- 45worlds: Cocteau Twins
- 45worlds: Cocteau Twins 12″
- 45cat: Cocteau Twins
John McLaughlin (born Jan. 4, 1942) is an English jazz-rock guitarist from Doncaster, South Yorksh...
The Dancing Did were an English art-punk band from Evesham, Worcestershire, that issued two single...
2nd Vision were an English jazz-rock band that released the album First Steps on Chrysalis in 1980...
Josef K were a Scottish New Wave/pop-rock band from Edinburgh that debuted with a single on self-p...
The Pale Fountains were an English sophisti-pop band that released three standalone singles and two ...
Queen was an English rock band that released fourteen studio albums between 1973 and 1991. Their fir...
National Health was an English avant-jazz/rock band from Canterbury that released a self-titled al...
Lene Lovich — aka Lili Marlene Premilovich (born March 30, 1949) — is an American-born New Wave/ar...
The Buggles were a studio-based English new wave/art pop duo that scored a global hit in 1979 with "...
Glenn Jones (born 1962) is an American soul singer from Jacksonville, Fla. Discography: Eve...
Robert Fripp (born May 16, 1946) is an English guitarist and composer from Wimborne Minster, Dorse...
Jean-Michel Jarre is a French keyboardist and sound technician who has been active since the start...