"I weighed my life and it's got me old fool gold."
Graeme Wallis | Newcastle, England | 06/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although The Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine deservedly enjoy the accolades accompanying their respective positions as pioneers of the shoegazer genre pervasive in the late 1980s, the JMC's fellow Scots, Cocteau Twins, can be identified as a crucial component in the (semi-) popularisation of the style.
Following the departure of bassist and founding member Will Heggie, Head Over Heels relies almost exclusively on the Twins' two strongest suits: Robin Guthrie's often-abstruse guitar production, and Elizabeth Fraser's wraithlike vocals (which she lent most famously to the 1998 Massive Attack single 'Teardrop') and indiscernible lyrics.
The result is something of a synthesis of the trite precepts of punk, rock, dream pop and new wave combined to otherworldly effect. Although far removed from it's ominous predecessor Garlands (1982), Head Over Heels paradoxically both maintained the (considerable) critical and (modest) commercial appreciation the band had previously garnered, and signalled the dawning of a band honing their influential sound.
A central ambivalence in the album's sound is that although Fraser's iridescent vocals could pass as lullaby ('Sugar Hiccup'), Guthrie's coextensive opaque guitar layerings and vapourous arpeggios ('Glass Candle Grenades') are often their very antithesis. The variance works however, as the album sweeps effortlessly from would-be requiem (the dirge-like 'The Tinderbox (of a heart)' and would-be jazz ('Multifoiled') to would-be U2 ('My Love Paramour') and back again.
Indeed, Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and The Edge (U2) are as present in Guthrie's guitar as Will Reid and Kevin Shields (The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine respectively).
Fraser's voice is the central attraction however, with a transcendent quality that can be deciphered in the work of vocalists as diverse as Jeff Buckley (with whom she was romantically involved), Bjork, Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and Chino Moreno (Deftones)."
Don't buy the remaster!!!
Lypo Suck | Hades, United States | 12/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, this album is staggeringly brilliant; a jaw-droppingly gorgeous, stultifyingly mesmerizing, inhumanly haunting wall of sound. A masterpiece; a dramatic peak in the Cocteau's canon. It is also a stunningly profound leap forward in terms of both sound and song writing when compared with prior work. I have nothing against their debut, Garlands; it's an essential and lovely slab of post-punk dirge. But Head Over Heels opened the doors to an infinitely more sophisticated palette of color, with loads of newfound nuance and emotion to boot. A 5 star album all the way.
However, my intent with this review is to dissuade people from blowing money on the remaster (hence the star deduction). Yep, it was remastered by Robyn Guthrie himself (and it was apparently remixed by him as well). But to these ears, Guthrie has, quite oddly, seriously sabotaged his own work! I a/b'd the remaster with both an original copy of the LP and the original 4AD CD. And, shock! gasp! - the original versions are both miles better.
Here's why: The original is rich with detail and texture. It's airy, open, layered, and dynamic. The higher frequencies are silky and light. The remaster, by contrast, is much louder and dense, but also very compressed and sonically quite murky/muddy. As a result, a lot of detail is *lost*, buried under the swampy muck, especially many subtle flourishes in the arrangements. The guitars, once ranging dynamically from shimmery to full, now just all sound MASSIVE. It's as if someone cranked up the volume, boosted the bass, and threw some blankets of the speakers. It really is *that* bad. And for that reason, I strongly urge you to track down the original 4AD copy, or the early 90s Capitol reissue. If you don't believe me, find copies of both and a/b them for yourself. The differences are *not* subtle!"