Cocteau Twins - Milk & Kisses C/D

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The AMG review:


Throughout the '80s, Cocteau Twins created some of the most beautiful and innovative music of the decade. Liz Fraser's uncanny, gossamer voice and Robin Guthrie's shimmery guitar work both garnered acclaim and inspired bands. Milk and Kisses finds the band in a comfortable rut; they've created, and now perfected, a style of music so distinctive that there seems to be little recent creative growth. The result is a beautiful, lush, but somewhat dated and unengaging sounding album that tends to wash over the listener without making any real impact. It is, however, everything that a Cocteau Twins album promises; hypnotic, dreamy, awash in ethereal voices, and delicate, liquid guitars. "Tishbite" in particular delivers an accessible dream pop sound that sounds nice while it's playing but fails to have anything really memorable about it, a problem that plagues most of Milk and Kisses. "Half-Gifts," "Rilkean Heart," and "Treasure Hiding" have an airy, otherwordly prettiness to them -- but that's about it. Necessary for Cocteau Twins diehards and potentially interesting to those that have never heard the band before, Milk and Kisses says nothing, but says it beautifully.

I'm undecided myself. Sometimes I think it is the most beautiful music ever made (especially "Treasure Hiding" and "Seekers") and sometimes it just leaves me cold. I kind of agree with the review above, particularly, with the part I highlighted. I guess I'll say classic.

daavid (daavid), Monday, 18 July 2005 05:23 (fifteen years ago) link

Let's ask KJ-52.

So KJ-52, Do you think "Milk & Kisses" is Classic or a Dud?

http://www.revivalsound.com/i/kj52.jpg
"I THINK IT'S A DUD. THERE'S BETTER COCTEAU ALBUMS"

Thanks, KJ-52

Michael Costello (MichaelCostello1), Monday, 18 July 2005 05:28 (fifteen years ago) link

It's just behind Head Over Heels, Garlands, and Victorialand for me.

The first time I heard the album, a co-worker had to help me get back on my feet (as "Serpentskirt" was ending, if memory serves).

Andy_K (Andy_K), Monday, 18 July 2005 10:52 (fifteen years ago) link

"ups" = butthole surfers. why a song about courier service tho?

bob snoom, Monday, 18 July 2005 11:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Any album with Half-Gifts on it is a classic, as far as I'm concerned.

I had gone off the Cocteaus a bit around the Moon and The Melodies album but hearing Milk and Kisses brought me back into the fold.

OTM, Andy K - certainly in the top 4 Cocteau Albums (although I'd have to have Treasure instead of Victorialand)

Guilty Boksen (Bro_Danielson), Monday, 18 July 2005 11:14 (fifteen years ago) link

I lovelovelovelovelove this album so much. Really, this is my Cocteaus album; the one just contiunally hits every single note and nuance in precisely the right way to make me grin like a madman.

The Ghost of Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Monday, 18 July 2005 12:04 (fifteen years ago) link

wonderful album. but i don't think the Cocteaus ever put a foot wrong.

anyone else completely infatuated with Faye Wong's cover of "Rilkean Heart?" Ms. Fei is every bit Liz's match as a honeytongued glossolalian. into each generation, two will be born...

echoinggrove (echoinggrove), Monday, 18 July 2005 12:35 (fifteen years ago) link

Dan OTM.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Monday, 18 July 2005 13:20 (fifteen years ago) link

serpentskirt... ahhh, fucking magic... seekers who are lovers as well!!! an elan, one of the b-sides is still my favorite track ever by them. it is a pretty fantastic record and honestly a good one for a band to bow out on. i think it is highly underrated in their catalogue.

(plus the tour for this record was one of the best, if not for the mark clifford live moments alone for pitch the baby, aloysius and wax and wane.)

ebenoit, Monday, 18 July 2005 13:39 (fifteen years ago) link

"Violaine" is one of the most beautiful things ever written and possibly the best opening song to an album ever outside of MAYBE "Jackie" and "The Girl With The Sun In Her Head".

The Ghost of Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Monday, 18 July 2005 13:59 (fifteen years ago) link

anyone else completely infatuated with Faye Wong's cover of "Rilkean Heart?"

I haven't heard her cover, but I have heard the duet with Liz Fraser that appears on the Asian release of M&K. It's wonderful.

The album is uneven, but the highlights (incl. "Half-Gifts", "Rilkian Heart", "Serpentskirt") are spectacular and essential.

I think I said this on another thread, but

Twinlights ep + Otherness ep = best Cocteau Twins album ever

Speaking of their EPs, this is a touch off topic, but does anyone know if Amazon actually has this in stock. They have it on sale today, so that would seem to indicate that they do. However, it says it usually ships in one to two weeks and I ordered a Larry Levan cd in February that they claimed was in stock but still hasn't shipped. So has anyone tried to order this?

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000008EER/qid=1121720079/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-8396821-9667100?v=glance&s=music&n=507846

matt2 (matt2), Monday, 18 July 2005 20:05 (fifteen years ago) link

Really not my favorite of theirs.....by a Loooooooooooooooooong shot......but still quite lovely.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 18 July 2005 20:39 (fifteen years ago) link

thought it was a dud when it came out, came around to liking it, back to thinking it's not up to pre-4 Calendar Cafe work; I prefer the EPs it spawned, really

kyle (akmonday), Monday, 18 July 2005 21:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Probably their best single long-player. Bonus points: it has two last tracks.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 19 July 2005 03:39 (fifteen years ago) link

Absolute all-time classic, especially the first two tracks. Hmmm, I think I'll get it out for another listen tomorrow!

Telegram Sam, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 06:06 (fifteen years ago) link

eight months pass...
UR THE BEST I LOVE U

MICHAEL PATTEN, Monday, 20 March 2006 21:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Probably their best single long-player

I can't even describe how wrong I feel this is.

Listening to a radio sampler of the new EP collection, I perceive a most precipitous decline in quality directly after Heaven Or Las Vegas. It really became quite obvious after hearing "Iceblink Luck" followed by "Bluebeard".

DUD.

sleeve (sleeve), Monday, 20 March 2006 22:37 (fourteen years ago) link

Victorialand!!!

Cameron Octigan (Cameron Octigan), Monday, 20 March 2006 22:40 (fourteen years ago) link

eleven months pass...
Revive! Because I've been on a Cocteau Twins splurge and I heart this record so.

Listening to a radio sampler of the new EP collection, I perceive a most precipitous decline in quality directly after Heaven Or Las Vegas. It really became quite obvious after hearing "Iceblink Luck" followed by "Bluebeard".

I think you can make that argument about Four Calendar Cafe, but not about Milk & Kisses. I don't think anyone could listen to "Seekers Who Are Lovers" and hear a "precipitous decline in quality" — to think they ended their career on that song...just amazing.

Now, there's a fair argument to be made that Milk & Kisses is their best produced album. The sounds are just so delicate, so rich.

But what's interesting and unique about this record is the degree to which it's pop. At the time, I remember all these people accusing them of trying to sound like The Sundays, which was ridiculous — tho' after the mid-80's EP's which were often on pop's furthest margins, I will admit it's kind of striking how disarmingly straightforward songs like "Half-Gifts" and "Tishbite" are. Still, there's an elegance to the way Guthrie's guitar melodies offers counterpoint to Liz's vocals on so many of these songs (and I'm thinking about the chorus to "Serpentskirt," and the guitar riff to "Rilkean Heart" in particular) that is really breathtaking.

I sometimes—well, ok, often—fantasize what their next record would've sounded like.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 5 March 2007 19:24 (thirteen years ago) link

In the intervening years I've discovered that Garlands is also astonishing but I still stand behind what I wrote about this album earlier (before I ended up with an inscrutable username); Milk & Kisses is still MY Cocteaus album.

HI DERE, Monday, 5 March 2007 19:27 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

Serpentskirt, goddamnit.

Earl of Gothington Manor (Bimble), Thursday, 16 April 2009 12:16 (eleven years ago) link

What kind of a musical heaven do you want? If you don't like Cocteaus you cannot be my friend. No way.

Earl of Gothington Manor (Bimble), Thursday, 16 April 2009 12:16 (eleven years ago) link

seven years pass...

dang is that guthrie remaster bad. raymonde sounds like he's playing a womb through a "cotton wool" pedal

massaman gai, Tuesday, 10 January 2017 09:21 (three years ago) link

"Tishbite" was a great single, I thought.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Tuesday, 10 January 2017 10:33 (three years ago) link

What kind of a musical heaven do you want? If you don't like Cocteaus you cannot be my friend. No way.

i hope bimble has got access to his cocteau twins cds in heaven. i guess they don't stream there yet.

it's the distortion, stupid! (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 10 January 2017 12:51 (three years ago) link

It's all about Eperdu. For me.

erry red flag (f. hazel), Tuesday, 10 January 2017 17:18 (three years ago) link

dang is that guthrie remaster bad.

they all seem to be terrible from what I have seen and/or heard

I like this album a lot more now than I did when I posted ten years ago

sleeve, Tuesday, 10 January 2017 17:28 (three years ago) link

"Half-Gifts" is one of the most gorgeous songs ever

Everything Moves Towards The Sun (Ross), Tuesday, 10 January 2017 20:28 (three years ago) link

Guy who looks like Chino Moreno pulls off a fantastic acoustic bedroom cover of "Serpentskirt"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ4xdb16Q5o

Hideous Lump, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 04:57 (three years ago) link

It's all about Eperdu. For me.

Yep it's great. The harmonies in thirds remind me a bit of the Flower Duet.

the_ecuador_three, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 11:41 (three years ago) link

Was "ethereal wave" a genre that people actually used to describe Cocteau Twins back in the 80s and 90s? Or is it a more modern day distinction that arose from the fact that music critics loved using the term "ethereal" to describe their music?

brontosaur, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 20:33 (three years ago) link

I have never heard or seen the term "ethereal wave" until your post just now.

(The caption: “fine dining.”) (DJP), Wednesday, 11 January 2017 20:40 (three years ago) link

I had never heard it until today either. It sounded like bullshit to me, but it has a wikipedia articlehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethereal_wave and apparently the terrifying website Rate Your Music has it as a genrehttp://rateyourmusic.com/genre/Ethereal+Wave/.

I came up in the 90s so I thought maybe I just didn't know what I was talking about. This has always been Dream Pop if I had to assign a genre.

brontosaur, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 20:51 (three years ago) link

"Etherial wave" was a short lived marketing category in the Projekt catalog, before it all got subsumed into the overly amorphous "dream pop"

not because roaches like to party (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 11 January 2017 21:21 (three years ago) link

It's modern in the sense that for many of us, before the web existed even if you knew what the term meant it would have been hopeless to try and use it in a conversation because nobody else would have a clue what you meant.

erry red flag (f. hazel), Wednesday, 11 January 2017 21:29 (three years ago) link

but did fans of Cocteau Twins in the late 80s ever use this term to describe their music and bands like them? even to other fans?

As someone who just heard the term today, it just feels like a product of a younger generation who think of Music like Pokemons or Dinosaurs and have to catch em all and categorize everything to a minute point of distinction just so certain groups might come up a bit quicker when you plug their microgenre into a search engine.

Or, maybe I am just a fella that is too old and doesn't know as much as he thinks he does. This seems more likely.

brontosaur, Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:01 (three years ago) link

Ethereal was definitely a term that was common online in the mid-90s and it referred to, as a shorthand, music like the Cocteau Twins. Like on the 4AD mailing list and Usenet. It took a few more years of Internet to really get reified into a "genre" though. Probably.

erry red flag (f. hazel), Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:32 (three years ago) link

Like, in the sense that genres became more important than bands as the Internet taught us that categories were more important than examples.

erry red flag (f. hazel), Wednesday, 11 January 2017 22:35 (three years ago) link

4ad mailing list, ca. 1992-1996, would have used "thislisty".

"Ethereal", was, however the most overused adjective applied to CT in the 1980s press, and the Projekt mail order catalog used "ethereal wave" to describe bands following in the wake of CT through the mid 90s, as opposed to bands that emulated the "darkwave" of Dead Can Dance (which evolved into RYM's "neoclassical darkwave").

not because roaches like to party (Sanpaku), Thursday, 12 January 2017 00:24 (three years ago) link

As in, Area/M7x, Bel Canto, Strange Boutique, later Love Spiral Downward, maybe Collection d'Arnell-Andrea and Mephisto Walz, are all "thislisty" music.

not because roaches like to party (Sanpaku), Thursday, 12 January 2017 00:30 (three years ago) link

Hey wow, 4AD-L reprazent. I think I was there maybe '94 - '97. Eyesore is still out there I believe.

attention vampire (MatthewK), Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:21 (three years ago) link

Well if Projekt used the term "ethereal wave" to sell records back in the day, I guess it must have been a genre. There isn't much more to genre is there? Thanks everybody!

brontosaur, Thursday, 12 January 2017 16:58 (three years ago) link

Genres are walls now; they used to be maps.

erry red flag (f. hazel), Thursday, 12 January 2017 17:59 (three years ago) link

Milk & kisses has been a big letdown for me after the two phantastic albums before. "heaven or las vegas" was my entrance to the cocteaus, a literally heavenly album if there ever was one. "four-calendar café" was more of the same but even more perfect. each song a killer. i am just listening to it and still surprised how well it aged. the perfect night music. there is nothing more soothing than listening to it between 3 and 4 in the morning.

it's the distortion, stupid! (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 14 January 2017 22:08 (three years ago) link

Sad to hear the Guthrie remasters aren't well liked, they're all I've ever known.

The ethereal goth/dreampop thread covers everything ethereal wave.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 16 January 2017 16:43 (three years ago) link

Will Four-Calendar Cafe or Milk & Kisses ever get reissued? Seems like now would be a good time.

brotherlovesdub, Monday, 16 January 2017 17:24 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

Somehow I never realized that the second volume of Lullabies to Violane had all the B-sides from the Milk and Kisses era. I’m not sure any of them belonged on the album based the first few listens. But they are pretty good – and there are a ton of them.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 16 November 2020 03:22 (two weeks ago) link

Tranquil Eye is a fun Milk and Kisses b-side!

thousand-yard spiral stairs (f. hazel), Monday, 16 November 2020 15:28 (two weeks ago) link

I've been listening to King's sole album practically on repeat through Covid. Especially in its second half its practically a love-letter to Heaven or Las Vegas era Cocteaus, esp the post-album b-side Watchlar. How I wish this, more R&B inflected, version of the Cocteaus was the template for Milk & Kisses. I mean, Massive Attack surely heard this direction prior to "Teardrop".

A huge problem for me with all the bands shoveled into "etherial wave" bin (see above) is they could mimic the guitar presets, but weren't R&B fans. Liz Frasier wasn't a gothy choir girl, she was trying to channel Ella.

Imagine if the Milk & Kisses sessions had been produced by "3D" Del Naja. Might not have saved the band, but it would have been a great course correction.

Advanced Doomscroller (Sanpaku), Monday, 16 November 2020 17:42 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks for the heads up – I’m also a big “Watchlar” fan and about 15 seconds into the first track of that King record I was thinking Ryuichi Sakamoto, so it was nice to see they’re into him.

All that said I’m not totally sure this feels that Cocteau-y to me? One of my favorite things about Liz is that there are so many of her. There’s Speaking in Tongues Liz (She Will Destroy You, Frou-Frou). There’s Plaintive Liz (The open of Fotzepolitic). There’s Ethereal Trilling Liz (Lorelei, Aikea-Guinea, Half-Gifts). There’s Operatic Liz (Seekers Who Are Lovers, Carolyn’s Fingers). There’s Wailing Liz (Love’s Easy Tears, Great Spangled Fritillary).

It’s not that simple obv. but I feel like we don’t get that on King?

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 18 November 2020 00:55 (two weeks ago) link

Somehow I never realized that the second volume of Lullabies to Violane had all the B-sides from the Milk and Kisses era. I’m not sure any of them belonged on the album based the first few listens. But they are pretty good – and there are a ton of them.

― Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 16 November 2020 03:22 (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

Ending with "Alice" seems both appropriate and like finishing with a question mark - that track most of all suggests a different route the band could have taken had they stayed together.

Tim F, Wednesday, 18 November 2020 01:05 (two weeks ago) link

have any of their final recordings as a band from 1997 been released? I thought Touch Upon Touch was the latest recorded song that got official release.

thousand-yard spiral stairs (f. hazel), Wednesday, 18 November 2020 02:01 (two weeks ago) link

On the last Volume compilation? I bought a few of those, but I don't recognise Volume 17 from Discogs, so I guess I never picked that one up. I may never have heard that track until now (Treasure Hiding comp on Spotify). They were pretty good at giving exclusive gems to comps. The High Monkey-Monk is a bit of a classic, I think (Melody Maker comp - which I got on cassette, long gone now). Doesn't sound like a BBK/HoLV cast-off at all, but something out on its own.

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 18 November 2020 11:03 (two weeks ago) link

true! Touch upon Touch was on the Dewdrops compilation "Splashed with Many a Speck" too

thousand-yard spiral stairs (f. hazel), Wednesday, 18 November 2020 14:10 (two weeks ago) link


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