Our Top 10 Cocteau Twins songs list looks back at a musical group who hailed from Scotland. The group began their career in 1979 and continued their musical journey until 1997. Originally formed by Robin Guthrie who played guitar and operated a drum machine and Will Heggie who played bass, they were soon joined by vocalist Elizabeth Fraser. Will Heggie was later replaced by Simon Raymonde. It is a massive understatement to say that the band’s sound was certainly unique, particularly Fraser’s operatic vocals which were often sung in an incomprehensible style. Cocteau Twins songs helped fuel the 1980’s dream pop scene.
The band were signed to the 4AD label which put out many classic indie releases during the eighties and nineties. They released a string of albums which were well received both critically and commercially. They were with this label until 1990 when they signed with Fontana Records.
They split up in 1997 due to internal issues that largely stemmed from the breakdown of Fraser and Guthrie’s romantic relationship. They have never reformed since. Raymonde would go on to form the Bella Union label. Here is a look at ten of their best songs.
# 10 – Rilkean Heart
First on this Cocteau Twins songs list is a song that was taken from the band’s eighth and final album released in 1996 titled Milk and Kisses. This was actually written about Jeff Buckley. Him and Fraser had a brief relationship after she spit from Guthrie, something which must have naturally led to some tension during the track’s recording. The fact that Buckley tragically took his own life a year after this album’s release makes it even more poignant.
# 9 – I Wear Your Ring
This track is from the band’s sixth album Heaven or Las Vegas released in 1990. Although Ivan Watts, the president of 4AD said it was one of the best albums of that year, he let them go due to his personal relationship with the band deteriorating. It was the group’s most commercially successful record, reaching number seven in the UK and ninety-nine on the US Billboard. Over the years it has become commonly regarded to be a classic album.
# 8 – Wax And Wane
Next, we back to the band’s early days with this track taken from their 1982 debut Garlands. When the album was released it received much support from renowned British disc jockey John Peel and reached number five on the Alternative album charts. This was the only album to feature Will Heggie on bass. It most certainly has a different sound too much of their later material, being much darker and gothic sounding.
# 7 – Aikea-Guinea
This song is the title track of the band’s ep released in 1985, which was included as a bonus with some Canadian pressings of the album Treasure. This track also appears on the 1986 compilation album The Pink Opaque and a remastered version also appears on another compilation released in 2000 titled Stars and Topsoil. This song is a classic example of the band at their peak. It has a brilliant ambient atmosphere and, in a way, almost has a Christmas-like feel to it.
# 6 – Lorelei
This track is taken from the band’s third album titled Treasure released in 1984. This album was the first to be made by what would end up being the band’s main line-up. It also further enhanced what would be the band’s definitive ethereal sound. It reached number twenty-nine on the Uk charts, making it their first top forty album. It also reached much critical acclaim. Despite all this, the band themselves were not completely happy with it, feeling that its sound was not fully developed.
# 5 – Sugar Hiccup
Here is a song taken from the band’s second album Head Over Heels released in 1983. It was their first album as a duo with Fraser on vocals and with Guthrie provided all of the instrumentation. This track is another classic example of the band’s sound, featuring Guthrie’s sublime guitar sound that just sounds like a spacey wall of noise. The album was another that was well acclaimed upon its release with Sounds magazine ranking it at number seven in their best albums of that year.
# 4 – Lazy Calm
Here is the opening track from Victorialand, the band’s fourth album released in 1986. Simon Raymonde did not play on this album because he was working with This Mortal Coil on their Filigree and Shadow album. The album barely features any percussion, instead having a largely ambient sound. With this record, the band are advancing even more. This track in particular is an atmospheric masterpiece.
# 3 – Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops
At number three is one of the group’s best-known singles taken from their 1984 ep The Spangle Maker. It was their highest charting single in the Uk, reaching number twenty-nine on the general charts and topping the independent charts. It marked the start of Raymond’s recording career with the band. It is yet another great piece in the band’s catalogue and is defiantly one of the first recordings to pioneer what would later become the signature sound of the shoegaze genre.
# 2 – Fotzepolectic
Here is another track taken from Heaven or Las Vegas. This album received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. One particular review highlight came in the form of a line from Marin Aston of Q magazine who described as “Ten exquisite moments that make Kate Bush – their only possible comparison – sound as airborne as Motorhead. ” However, the background of this record was a troubled one. Fraser and Guthrie were expecting their first child together, but Guthrie was starting to use drugs heavily, which is what led to the breakdown of their relationship.
# 1 – Iceblink Luck
At the top spot on our Cocteau Twins Songs list is another track from Heaven that was released as its first single. It was their second top forty hit in the UK where it reached number thirty-eight. This song, like much of the album, despite still containing all of the qualities that made the Cocteau Twins unique, sees them going in a somewhat more accessible direction. It was much more conventional and not as experimental as much of their earlier material.