Today, 40 years ago, Cocteau Twins released their debut album, Garlands. It peaked the top 5 of the UK Independent Albums Chart and received support from BBC Radio 1 radio host John Peel.
Garlands is the only album the band recorded with original bassist Will Heggie. Prior to the album the band recorded a four-track session for John Peel in June 1982. including “Wax and Wane” and “Garlands”.
Scottish music historian, Martin C. Strong, noted the album was “hastily recorded” but also featured an “interesting fusion of monochromatic rhythms, textured guitar distortion, and early sampling technology. Billboard described the album as “dark post-punk”. The Art Desk noted that “though they had their own voice, the debut’s debt to Siouxsie and the Banshees was apparent.”
Cocteau Twins’ roadie Collin Wallace recalled that “Garlands was written off in the UK as another Siouxsie copy band, and Elizabeth (Fraser) was a huge Siouxsie fan.” Spin wrote that the album “(sounds) like Siouxsie and the Banshees with echo and smeared mascara.” Under the Radar stated that the album “represented a year zero for alternative guitar music,” adding that songs like ‘Wax and Wane’ and ‘But I’m Not’ undoubtedly influenced a generation of effects pedalled guitar slingers decades on.”
The photograph on the front cover was conceived by Nigel Grierson when he was at college. It was part of a project on his graphic design course for alternative images for Siouxsie and the Banshees’ debut album The Scream. The picture was later chosen by Cocteau Twins and the album producer, Ivo Watts-Russell.
The video above, Cocteau Twins performs “Wax and Wane” live on a Dutch TV program, January 1983.
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Featured image via Dave Tonge/Getty Images.