Cocteau Twins
Victorialand


4.0
excellent

Review

by INTERNATIONAL POPSTAR STEVEN WILSON USER (47 Reviews)
May 22nd, 2016 | 31 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A wonderful, frozen landscape of sound.

Despite having earned themselves the label of “dream pop”, I can’t help but feel something a little more lucid when listening to Cocteau Twins’ music. Victorialand, the group’s fourth studio album, conveys this sensation in an interesting way, sounding something like the soundtrack to the earth’s ice caps.

Victorialand most likely directs the listener to these blissful lands of ice due to its name and tracklist being rooted there; with Victoria Land itself being a region in the Antarctic, while the song titles are lifted from passages detailing the Arctic and the Antarctic from David Attenborough's The Living Planet. Because of this, the album’s sensation of an Arctic tour was obviously either intentional on the part of the band or similarly felt by the band upon listening back.

The album’s sound is a further exploration of the ethereal soundscapes they had created masterfully with Treasure, but taken in a much more ambient direction. Due to the absence of Simon Raymonde, the remaining duo of Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie opted for an almost entirely percussion-less album. The opener “Lazy Calm” is a pretty to the point introduction, as what you’ll find there is essentially what’s expanded on for the rest of the album. The guitars are incredibly subtle and spacy, much like an icy mist. Throughout the song, there’s a phaser effect that spirals through the channels, adding incredible colour to the already lush piece. Liz’s vocals are as angelic as usual; adding the wildlife to the beautiful, but otherwise barren tundra, especially effective with this beautiful trilled, descending vocal melody which she sings throughout the song.

This style of snowy, crystal clear melodies and Liz’s gorgeous voice as the tour guide is pretty much the modus operandi for the entire album. However, there are varying degrees of energy with which these scenes are captured. Some songs are more bright and invigorating, while others are more cold and enveloping. “Throughout the Dark Months of April and May” is as brooding as the title suggests, with melancholic acoustic guitar and light, layered, almost operatic vocals making up its entire composition. The icy winds and driving warmth is melted together with “Oomingmak”, one of the album’s briefer features and one of it’s most satisfying. “Little Spacy” is oddly enough one of the least spacious tracks on the album, opting to be more direct in its approach to melody. The succeeding track, “Feet-Like Fins”, begins with a heavily reverb coated guitar reminiscent of an iceberg bobbing on the water before surprising the listener by bringing in a rare percussive passage, though it is sparse and reserved.

Victorialand is a brief, yet impressive display of Cocteau Twins’ mastery of aural painting, drawing together elegant imagery of frozen landscapes with a strikingly simple but effect palette of sonic colours. The album stands out in their discography which is already scattered with stunning gems. Victorialand saves itself from what could have been monotony by keeping its running time brief and managing to sustain a decent variety of sound that stops the whole album bleeding together. Definitely an album to be listened to next to the fireplace with a blanket handy.



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user ratings (257)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jasdevi087
May 22nd 2016


5526 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

:]

parksungjoon
May 22nd 2016


9399 Comments


band's really good and this album is no exception. needed a review too

although i have to say you spend so much time making ice comparisons i thought for a second you were reviewing immortal's battles in the north or something.

"The opener “Lazy Calm” is a pretty to the point opener, as what you’ll find there is essentially what’s expanded on for the rest of the album. "

this phrase reads pretty awkwardly, might want to change that

but gd review


Friday13th
May 22nd 2016


6777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pos album rules

Ryus
May 22nd 2016


17437 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this didnt have a review damn

lazy calm is the best thing ever

AnimalsAsSummit
May 22nd 2016


3888 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review Jas, this is probs my fourth favorite Cocteau. very atmospheric release, even by the band's usual standards

Jasdevi087
May 22nd 2016


5526 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"The opener “Lazy Calm” is a pretty to the point opener, as what you’ll find there is essentially what’s expanded on for the rest of the album. "



this phrase reads pretty awkwardly, might want to change that




could you give me some pointers as to how I could reword it? thanks





parksungjoon
May 22nd 2016


9399 Comments


honestly i think removing the repetition of "opener" might do the trick

Jasdevi087
May 22nd 2016


5526 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh ok, didn't notice that

PappyMason
May 23rd 2016


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So glad this got a review.



The atmosphere on here is fantastic.

brandontaylor
July 26th 2016


805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album is very pretty but a little sleepy/unvaried, definitely not my fave cocteau twins record

chinesewhispers
July 26th 2016


4763 Comments


^If it's not Heaven or Las Vegas ur wrong

brandontaylor
July 26th 2016


805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

heaven or las vegas is basically a perfect album nothing else in their discog comes close

Friday13th
July 26th 2016


6777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Treasure is way better than both.

Yotimi
July 26th 2016


7479 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nah, treasure and heaven are really close

rabidfish
March 10th 2017


5076 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Some of the most beautiful stuff I've listened to in a while... I don't dig much CT as much as this, tbh.

Digging: Billy Woods, Kenny Segal - Hiding Places

bloc
April 8th 2017


55394 Comments


Imo, this is one of their weakest

Digging: Lil Ugly Mane - Mista Thug Isolation

BMDrummer
December 21st 2017


14517 Comments


ethereal can’t even begin to describe this

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
May 12th 2018


14164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is such a perfect follow-on from the dreamier parts of Treasure

Digging: Otoboke Beaver - Itekoma Hits

y87arrow
June 16th 2018


263 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very good album and I always love icy cold sounds no matter which genre (ambient, ebm, industrial and other genres). Even Frazer's vocals sound like they're coated in ice.



"Ethereal" should be an available genre on sputnikmusic (same with darkwave, neoclassical, ebm and few others by the way), as it is a well-known genre.

Digging: Eyeless In Gaza - Sun Blues

Jasdevi087
June 16th 2018


5526 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah good luck on getting anyone to do anything about the genre tags



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