Review #245: Heaven or Las Vegas, Cocteau Twins

Karla Clifton
3 min readMar 7, 2022

#245: Heaven or Las Vegas, Cocteau Twins

[A note for regular readers: You may have noticed that my output last week was significantly lower than usual. (I was sleeping.) In order to make up for the missed reviews and continue to eventually hopefully someday finally freaking publish this, I’m going to publish a review every day this week through Friday. Apologies for this lapse in our regularly scheduled programming.]

I knew nothing about the Cocteau Twins, but RS calls them “Scot goths,” so I was naturally enthusiastic. What RS fails to point out is that guitarist Robert Guthrie (who was causing some intraband turmoil due to a coke habit) and singer Elizabeth Fraser (who would later feature on Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, #383) had a BABY together. That’s some Fleetwood Mac shit. Love it.

“Cherry-coloured Funk,” the introductory song, immediately made me think of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless (#73), just with prettier vocals and ever-so-slightly-less distortion on the guitar. “Dream pop,” is that what this is called? I’m a fan.

It might be a side effect of having listened to so much music (so much music) over the past year, or maybe dream pop is just a very expansive genre, but so many of these songs reminded me of different, fairly diverse bands. “Iceblink Luck” sounds like a mix of the Sugarcubes (Bjork’s band) with Brandon Flowers. (Weird song titles all around, by the way.) “Wolf in the Breast” reminds me of Mariah or Celine, a diva with a particularly lovely accent. Then on the “Over the River and Through the Woods”-inspired “Road, River and Rail,” she suddenly transforms into Natalie Imbruglia. The whole record has West Coast-sounding guitars, a la Best Coast and Haim.

“Pitch The Baby” has a funny name, but some of these lyrics are terrifying: I’m heart, and in space the plane/On fill our hearts’ ascension(inside you)/…To sell the place isn’t very, very, very big. It’s tied for Scariest Track with “Frou-frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires,” which contains some of the creepiest falsetto harmonies I’ve ever heard.

Runaway favorite was the title track “Heaven or Las Vegas,” which moved me. I don’t know what it was — the jingle-bell guitars, Fraser’s magic fairy soprano voice when she holds the final syllable of Vegas, or maybe it was just the concept, the idea of heaven being not-so-different from Nevada. “Fotzepolitic” mesmerized me, too; I just couldn’t get enough of those gorgeous guitars.

I wasn’t sold on all of these songs. “Fifty-fifty Clown” has maybe the dumbest lyrics on the album, and “I Wear Your Ring” just embarrassed me. But, in the end, it’s hard not to be won over by a Britpop album with cover art that you want to just dive into.

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