On November 1st, 1984, Cocteau Twins released their 3rd studio album and one of the most beloved by fans—the aptly titled “Treasure”.
The album has a wintry, almost crystalline sound, like the shimmering lace skirt on the cover, or ice after a snowstorm. The songs here highlight the focus on sound over lyrical content, as singer Elizabeth Fraser’s soprano warbles with emphasis on syllabic rhythm rather that aural comprehension.
The song titles take their names from archaic and mythical figures, such as Aloysius, Persephone, Lorelei, and Pandora, the latter of which is sometimes listed as “Pandora (For Cindy)”, indicates that many of the songs are dedicated to real people, as is the opening track “Ivo” which was written for 4AD label owner Ivo Watts-Russell.
Despite all of this, the album treasured by fans was considered trash by guitarist Robin Guthrie, who has been known to call it an “abortion”:
“…I’ve always detested Treasure. Not because of the record, but because of the vibe at the time, when we were pushed into all that kind of arty-farty pre-Raphaellite bullshit. And so I was just really ashamed of that record.” [Lime Lizard Magazine, 1993].
Robin seems to have been warming up to the album over time. “Treasure” was also the debut album for Bassist Simon Raymonde, who remained with the band until their breakup in 1997. Raymonde considered the album to be unfinished and rushed affair:
“…we spent a month doing the album…and, because we never really spent any time properly in each other’s company, we were still getting to know each other. We’d only been friends for a little while…We just sort of recorded loads of things and then the album came out. It’s like an unfinished record with probably two good pieces in there somewhere. It’s our worst album by a mile.” [Sound on Sound, July 1989].
Perhaps it was the introduction of Raymonde into the mix, coupled with further experimentation with the more ethereal sound started on the “Head Over Heels” album, that made “Treasure” the work of art that it is.
With “Ivo” being covered live by Jeff Buckley, and “Persephone” covered by a few goth bands, it is easy to see why the album that inspired the whole Shoegaze genre would convert journalist Steve Sutherland from thinking “another Siouxsie clone” to his infamous quote stating that the band are like “the voice of God”.