Cocteaus in their baby stage
Brian M. Harris | detroit, mi usa | 10/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The cocteaus have proven to be one of the most innovative bands in the world. With that said, garlands was like the seed planted of what was to come in their career. This album can only be described as, dark, damp, menacing, and droning. Which makes it no less wonderful as their future releases. Garlands definatley stands in a category all alone, because it is so different than what would become their "etheriel" sound. If you are a true fan of the cocteaus, you will give this one a chance. It isnt as accessable as their latest efforts, but no less fascinating."
The intoxicating sludge clearer songs had yet to emerge from
The Pitiful Anonymous | the Acres of Skin | 07/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1982, Cocteau Twins already had the murky, shimmering wall of guitar sound they were looking for. Back then, the noise was distorted and feedback laden. The vocals were unharmonized and close to decipherable. Liz sang in her haunting mid-range, and the music was minimal, underwritten and dark, relying on only a couple alternating melodies for each song's duration.
Comparisons to Joy Division and The Cure make some sense, although this album has a chaotic, wicked, mysterious delirium about it that those bands never captured, opting instead for bleak, intense depression. This is the only album in the Cocteau's entire catalog that is completely the missing positive, lilting shoegazer hit material such as "Pearly Dewdrop's Drops" and "Sugar Hiccup". Their new age, "dreamy" soft white aesthetic had yet to emerge.
This is not the say "Garlands" is one-dimensional; far from it. If anything, the vague, unrefined simplicity of these slabs of distortion makes them more open to interpretation than the much catchier songs on the two albums that came after this, "Head Over Heels" and "Treasure".
As always with this band, it's Liz's vocal performance that makes the album. She proves that even though the intense harmonization (5+ voices at once) of later albums is incredibly beautiful, it is not necessary. Her singing here slides up and down in pitch, and warbles with emotion in that distinctly Scottish way. Each Cocteau Twins album had its own vocal style, but here is the only time we hear her voice unaltered, singular and clean, and for this reason alone this album is worth it for any fan of hers.
The album is enjoyable as a whole, although not diverse like "Head Over Heels" or "Treasure" (after that they adopted a more thematic approach to structuring albums). Highlight tracks include the dizzyingly strange "Wax and Wane", the emotionally indescribable "Blind Dumb Deaf" and probably the catchiest track on the album, "But I'm Not".
The remastered production is as clear as it is possible to make this kind of music.
In conclusion, even if the band did improve exponentially with age (as this reviewer believes they did), Cocteau Twins' debut album "Garlands" is a great album on its own merits, they had yet to find their sound, but this sound has an appeal all its own."