Cocteau Twins found an exquisite emotional expression in this unblemished and natural fantasy for a carnival. The Scottish dreampop outfit had ruled the British Indie album chart with their albums and collaborations (Garlands in 1982, Head over Heels in 1983, the This Mortal Coil project 'It'll End in Tears' and Treasure in 1984, Victorialand and The Moon and the Melodies with Harold Budd in 1986, and Blue Bell Knoll in 1988); but they had major life changes in 1989.
Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie had a daughter Lucy Belle while Simon Raymonde got married and had a son Stanley. Fraser also recorded a duet with lan McCulloch on the title song of his album 'Candleland', and Guthrie did production work with Lush. The trio also rented a new studio space in Twickenham (formerly known as Eel Pie Studios) which they renamed September Sound. The sessions featured Elizabeth Fraser on vocals, Robin Guthrie on guitar, and Simon Raymonde on bass guitar.
Raymonde reflects: “When Robin and Liz had their baby, we all thought – well, Liz and I probably thought – that the drug use was gonna stop and a new baby in the house would make things better and they would play happy families for a while. That’s what we figured would happen but it didn’t really turn out like that. And it was a really weird time; while the music was amazing and great fun to be a part of, together Robin and I wrote some of our best tunes and separately too, he wrote a couple all on his own and I wrote a couple all on my own and when he added things to mine it made them better and vice versa. We were in a very good space musically but we were putting so much time and effort into the music, it was trying to mask all the other shit that was going on that we didn't want to stop and think about for too long. But the drug problem did get absolutely out of hand by the end of the recording of Heaven or Las Vegas and that obviously led to the rehab period which we moved into shortly afterwards.”
Guthrie grasps: "I like [the technology]. I mean it's a distraction for me. You know, I used to use all the technology to fulfill my needs as a person. It was like, 'I have to get more stuff.' Until I felt OK. So I went out and got every fuckin' thing there is. All this motherfuckin' houseful of equipment. Things that most probably we didn't need...The trouble is, if we spend half an afternoon making up this guitar part and we get to be really happy with it, then in two year's time when we want to play the song live we can't actually remember what we played because we only played it once. More traditional bands, they practise their songs every week and they know them inside out. We don't. ... I think we've had it in the back of our mind that we wanted to play live again, so we thought we'd make some of the pieces more like songs we could play live. We've never actually sat down and said 'let's make a record sound like this'."
Frasier fingers: "Suddenly I had confidence which I'd never ever had in my life, which I consequently lost after I had the baby, because it's such a frightening experience you lose it again and you have to start over again. But it does change you ... I don't feel it's any deeper than usual. I know I can't sing as many notes [as before]; I'm not sure I can get any deeper than I used to, but I know I can't get as high. It's definitely a hormone thing."
"Heaven or Las Vegas"
'Heaven or Las Vegas'
All songs written by Cocteau Twins.
"Cherry-Coloured Funk" – 3:12
"Pitch the Baby" – 3:14
"Iceblink Luck" – 3:18
"Fifty-Fifty Clown" – 3:10
"Heaven or Las Vegas" – 4:58
"I Wear Your Ring" – 3:29
"Fotzepolitic" – 3:30
"Wolf in the Breast" – 3:31
"Road, River and Rail" – 3:21
"Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires" – 5:38