ARTIST: COCTEAU TWINS
ALBUM: HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS
LABEL (YEAR): 4AD (1990)
FOR FANS OF: THIS MORTAL COIL, SLOWDIVE, MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Words by Stef Fiorendi
Cocteau Twins are one of 4AD's flagship artists. They not only defined a genre but also an aesthetic: ethereal and sensuous soundscapes that go hand in hand with enigmatic and abstract sleeve artworks designed by Vaughan Oliver.
The entirety of Heaven or Las Vegas, Cocteau Twins' last album for 4AD, is a powerful and surrealistic dream in a world of technicolor. Elizabeth Fraser is the ethereal narrator, her unique soprano voice levitating over a vast open landscape, delicately and gradually filling the listener with lush, bursting energy. On 'Fotzepolitic' and 'Pitch the Baby', the thick and succinct basslines of Simon Raymonde bring things back to a human dimension, revealing a conceptual accessibility which prevents the listener/dreamer from completely drifting off to Heaven, and allows them to find a tangible contact with their own personal Las Vegas.
This album is luminous ecstasy, fuelled by the enigmatic and barely intelligible lyrics which create a sense of climactic mystery. Like the dichotomy between good and evil, Heaven or Las Vegas determines your transgression to other-worldly realms. It's either a spiritual connection with God or an uninhibited journey to Sin City. No judgement involved.