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history
Chapter Twelve

"I'd like to think that people don't want to know about us. I'd like them to accept the records for what they are. It's like when people do interviews, they ask what our politics are. What the fuck does it matter what our politics are? What makes my opinion on something like that more important than their own just because I play music?" — Robin Guthrie


The walls of sound inferred on The Moon and The Melodies truly came to life later in 1986 with Love's Easy Tears, where the band's musical influences of the 1950's and 1960's are perhaps a bit more evident. The band members have cited among their influences such artists as Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, The Ronettes, and the Beach Boys, and reminiscences of these can be heard in the thick textures and melodies of Love's Easy Tears. Loud and trebled guitar roar and chime over thumping drums and a dancing bass and, of course—that voice—which pierces the colorful washes of sound with candy-coated choruses and howls of non-specificity.

"Love's Easy Tears"—a loud, ear-numbing track—was the single and video.

Robin's opinion was straightforward, as usual. "I think I must have heard the track about five or six hundred times through the process of recording it, doing the vocals, the video, and all the other shite. I'm pretty immune to it."

"Think it's good, though," added Simon.

Then Liz, finishing up on a pessimistic note, "It'll flop! Even though it's a goodie..." [All quotes RM Oct 1986]

Love's Easy Tears was originally released as a 12-inch, with "Sigh's Smell of Farewell" and "Those Eyes, That Mouth" as b-sides. It was later re-released with an additional track, "Orange Appled."

By this time, the band's established following were at the point of eagerly anticipating each release—especially after the confusion surrounding Victorialand and then The Moon and The Melodies. The band themselves were well along in their career—three full albums and seven EP's along. They had established their own studio for the time being, and were some of the hardest working musicians in British Independent music. But Love's Easy Tears—the first full-band record since Tiny Dynamine and Echoes In A Shallow Bay—had some saying that Cocteau records were starting to sound almost too similar to one another. This is a question that has been asked numerous times, but without any substantial supporting argument.

In 1986, Robin summed it up this way: "We don't consciously try to make our records sound different to each other, the fact that they're usually made with years or months in between them, they're going to sound different aren't they? We constantly change our attitude and contradict ourselves, which is quite healthy as far as I'm concerned." [RM, Oct 1986]

Then the inevitable, ubiquitous question: Liz's indecipherable lyrics...

"We've tried putting the vocals up in the mix," explained Liz, "keeping the effect off the voice and it still doesn't seem to work."

"It's nothing to do with the mix or the effects on the voice," added Robin. "It's just the way she's singing. You mean you can't understand what she's singing? [fecitiously]"

"Well, I do sing about life. Life with Robin; coping with him." [All quotes RM, Oct 1986]

"They're all words that I sing. There's none of it that's just nonsense. You can't just go out there and sing noises all day because you'd end up making the same noises all the time."

"I'd like to think that people don't want to know about us," said Robin in another interview that year. "I'd like them to accept the records for what they are. It's like when people do interviews, they ask what our politics are. What the fuck does it matter what our politics are? What makes my opinion on something like that more important than their own just because I play music?...I'm not a benefit person. The only thing we've put our name to is Artists Against Apartheid and anybody who's human would do that. There's so many worthwhile causes; if you do one, you've got to do them all. How can you choose one and not the others? [NOTE: They did eventually contribute a track from Victorialand to an animal rights campaign, as well as participate in the Peace Together benefit in 1993.]

"Music with a concrete message has got its place. So many other people do it and they probably do it better than we ever could. Somebody like Morrissey is a very eloquent person, he can answer anything because he's got a big vocabulary..."

"He hasn't, really..." added Liz.

"But he can talk," continued Robin. "He's a better talker than he is a singer. That's what people who buy Smiths' records buy them for. Why should all music have a concrete message?"

The song titles and the few lyrics which appear to be understandable point to the traditional pop/rock subject matter of love and adoration, such as "Those Eyes, That Mouth," "Sigh's Smell of Farewell," and of course the title track itself.

"I'm sure people do see the titles as a way into the songs," explained Liz. "But when you get to the record sleeve, you've got to call them something. If a song doesn't have a title, it's impossible to collect publishing on it. It's also a convenience for the records so you don't get journalists going 'the one that goes hum hum hum'. Treasure's an embarrassment but, you know, you've got to call it something and rather than Fred, John, and Bert...You say 'well, fuck it, it doesn't matter, just write that...'"

As for the video, the Cocteau Twins had not made a music video since their success with "Aikea-Guinea," and decided to give it another try with "Love's Easy Tears". The budget was quite obviously lower than usual, and it's unlikely that 23 Envelope had a hand in the video's production, which featured the band on a sound stage with a reel-to-reel backing tape machine and some rather cheap lighting and basic visual effects. A much better visual interpretation of "Love's Easy Tears" is offered by the video produced for "Crushed," a song recorded at the same time as "Love's Easy Tears," but which was released exclusively on the 4AD compilation Lonely Is An Eyesore in 1987.

Each of the songs on Love's Easy Tears has been performed live except "Those Eyes, That Mouth." "Love's Easy Tears" and "Sigh's Smell of Farewell" both appeared on the 1986 tour, and "Orange Appled" was a standard on the 1990/91 Heaven or Las Vegas world tour. "Orange Appled" was also performed live on the European programme SNUB-TV around the same time, and was the only track from this EP to appear on the 2000 4AD retrospective compilation, Stars and Topsoil.

After "Crushed," the band took a much-deserved break and finished equipping their first proper studio. The world did not hear much from them again—except for guest-appearances—until late 1988, with the release of their first major-label LP, Blue Bell Knoll.

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