Cocteau Twins
Head Over Heels


5.0
classic

Review

by WilhelmBlack USER (12 Reviews)
May 5th, 2016 | 16 replies


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cocteau Twins first true album; an ethereal masterpiece meant for the masses.

After the monotonous Garlands was released by Cocteau Twins, the band was considered to be an imitator of Siouxsie and The Banshees and their contemporaries. This is in part due to the more melancholic subdued sound of the album. The highlights of the album are in my opinion "Blood Bitch" and "Wax and Wane"; "Wax and Wane" being among their most well-known songs due in part to the Deftones cover. At times, Garlands sounds similar to that of Scream by Siouxsie and The Banshees or even like a watered-down version of Pornography by The Cure. Garlands at times is so close to sounding like a Gothic masterpiece or even a superb album at times. The reason why it is not one is because of the monotonous nature and the almost poseur post-punk sound on the album.

Enter Head Over Heels, the answer to the critics who labeled Cocteau Twins as a poseur post-punk band. The song "When Mama Was Moth" is kind of a misnomer opening for "Head Over Heels", it has the groundbreaking ethereal wave sound that bands such as Lycia or Dead Can Dance would utilize in their most iconic albums, yet it possesses the Garlands era sound. Head Over Heels is considered to be the first Ethereal Wave album by many contemporary critics; however, Head Over Heels does not have the typical ennui presence in ethereal wave. The album lacks an overt and depressing nature compared to that of A Day in the Stark Corner or Cold by Lycia. Head Over Heels is probably the most optimistic sounding ethereal wave album to listen to. Mostly due in part to the song “Sugar Hiccup” which is the closest resemblance to the sound of Heaven or Las Vegas What is also present in “Sugar Hiccup” are bits and pieces of the dream pop sound that Cocteau Twins would later utilize in Treasure.

Even though the album seems to be more optimistic by nature, there is still a gothic and post-punk presence on the album. These songs would be: “When Mama Was Moth”, “In Our Angelhood”, “Glass Candle Grenades”, “The Tinderbox (Of The Heart)”, and “Musette and Drums”; the sound is similar to early Siouxsie and The Banshees, especially with the song “Glass Candle Grenades”; yet the songs on Head Over Heels avoid the monotonous nature that plagued Garlands by adding some sort of new sound or song structure to them. The song “Glass Candle Grenades” only possess one verse, a chorus, and an ending sentence with the verse being repeated twice and the chorus repeated three times; a rather atypical song structure. The song is more atmospheric, something typical of an ethereal wave song. The best example of a more subdued gothic rock song is “The Tinderbox (Of The Heart).” It possesses an ominous buildup that seems like it would fit the mold of a typical downbeat ethereal wave song, but it avoids the typical mold by changing form once these lyrics are present:

How heavy you are on this faded hatch
Tinderbox of a heart left a shell is all
How heavy you are on this faded hatch
Tinderbox of a heart left a shell is all

The song takes a more emotional approach once these lyrics are present. It sounds more post-punk, the guitar picks up in tempo compared to the downbeat intro of the song. It is probably the second best example of an ethereal wave song behind “When Mama Was Moth” on the album. “Multifold” is probably the odd song on the album as it sounds nothing like the rest of the album. The song sounds like blues/jazz mixed with the ethereal wave sound present on the album compared to the rest of the album. Now, this is not a negative thing since the main problem with early Cocteau Twins was a lack of variety in the soundscape of the band. The song also makes a nice transition from “Tinderbox (Of The Heart)” to “My Love Paramour.”

This album is considered to be their most ethereal-like album due to the presence of the gothic rock and post-punk sound found in early Cocteau Twins discography such as Garlands and Peppermint Pig. However, ethereal wave is described as growing out of the gothic rock sound found on a typical Cure or Bauhaus album. Head Over Heels is outgrowing the post-punk and gothic rock roots of Cocteau Twins predecessor album Garlands and the various EPs released by the band and establishing a new sound Cocteau Twins would experiment with more on the albums Treasure and Victorialand.




Recent reviews by this author
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user ratings (340)
3.9
excellent
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dragonaut (4)
A monument to dreams...


Comments:Add a Comment 
WilhelmBlack
May 5th 2016


603 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I feel like this is my best review for an album so far. I plan to review all of Cocteau Twins albums. I am going to revise my Garlands review. I am most likely revising all of my reviews as I find my writing style has improved.

AnimalsAsSummit
May 5th 2016


4946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My favorite Cocteau twins album for sure; wonderful review

Digging: DJ T-1000 - Progress

WilhelmBlack
May 5th 2016


603 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, it took me 5 months to figure out what I wanted to say.

Deadsouls96
May 5th 2016


32 Comments


You have written better. ;)

WilhelmBlack
May 5th 2016


603 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for the reassurance. I prefer being underground anyway.

Deadsouls96
May 5th 2016


32 Comments


You are just waiting for the Sputnik groupthink to call this garbage for no reason. Be like Frank Zappa and don't care.

WilhelmBlack
May 5th 2016


603 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

How about I just give the middle finger and not care? I personally do not understand the elitist nature and snobbish nature of this site at times.



Edit: Thank you for the thumbs up, I really appreciate it.

KILL
May 5th 2016


81241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

makes the earth toss and tumble :D

WilhelmBlack
May 5th 2016


603 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

What is your favorite song off the album KILL?

Dis_Con_Nec_Ted
May 6th 2016


5099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn fine album is underrated by sputheads. Best Cocteau agreed.

Deadsouls96
May 6th 2016


32 Comments


My third favorite Cocteau Twins album.

jtswope
May 6th 2016


5788 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review man. Love me some Cocteau.

brandontaylor
May 6th 2016


937 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

im really enjoying getting into their discography album by album. this isnt my fave of theirs but sugar hiccup is one of their best songs. good review

Deadsouls96
May 8th 2016


32 Comments


I think this album is lumped in with Garlands, but it is considered to be among the first unique Dark Culture albums.

WilhelmBlack
May 8th 2016


603 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I am most likely submitting a review for Treasure tomorrow as I find the only two to be weak in some areas.

bach
January 20th 2018


16286 Comments


Tinderbox of a heart is the best song ever



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