Review: ‘Cocteau Twins’

The current Cocteau release, "Milk & Kisses" (Capitol), finds the group pretty much doing what it has done for the past eight years or so -- something equally true of the concert.

The current Cocteau release, “Milk & Kisses” (Capitol), finds the group pretty much doing what it has done for the past eight years or so — something equally true of the concert.

To describe the Twins’ sonic approach as an “attack” isn’t quite accurate; it’s more of a covert operation, with Robin Guthrie spinning shimmery guitar lines around which Elizabeth Fraser’s highly emotive vocals flit.

Sheets of mostly taped synthesizer parts ebb and flow throughout.

Fraser made her reputation with sustained high notes, guttural grunts and bird-like twitters that could be read either as emotional voicings of inexpressible passions or simple babble. She has become a bit more coherent recently — actual words are discernible — but song titles remain a mostly arbitrary matter. The result is either magnificently mesmerizing or wearisomely wet, depending on a listener’s predisposition to this music.

The lightly percolating, percussive “My Truth” and more upbeat strands of “Summerhead” (both from the group’s 1993 breakthrough album, “Four-Calendar Cafe”) helped modulate the tempo.

Indeed, subtle shadings came through rather splendidly, and while snorts of it “all sounding the same” wouldn’t be entirely out of place, there were enough mild variations on the theme to keep it interesting. The band performs June 24 at the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles.

Cocteau Twins

Production

Cocteau Twins (Roxy, New York; 800 capacity; $ 20) Presented by Delsener/Slater Enterprises. Reviewed June 12, 1996. Returning to a New York stage for the first time in nearly five years, the atmospheric British band Cocteau Twins remains content with its stylized, ethereal approach. Its appeal to an enthusiastic, midsized cult seems likely to stay that away -- possibly in perpetuity.

With

Band: Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie, Simon Raymonde.
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