The Floating Sensation in Cocteau Twins’ “Little Spacey”

The band Cocteau Twins formed in 1979 in a small town in Scotland: Grangemouth. A surreal place on the coast, filled with cozy homes and cottages, rivers, remnants of stone walls, and a massive, dominating oil refinery. It is no surprise that the sound from a band here would dip so dreamily, as theirs does. The band’s own landscape doesn’t make sense, as it seems so randomly juxtaposed together, so why should their music? Cocteau Twins’ “Little Spacey” ties the band’s essence in a bow and presents itself as an easy example of their style. 

The Band and “Little Spacey”

“Little Spacey” was released on the Cocteau Twins’ 1986 album Victorialand. It was the band’s fifth album, which further cemented their reputation as innovators within music. In the Rolling Stone article, “Dream Team: The Semi-Mysterious Story Behind the Music of ‘Twin Peaks’,” writer and critic Kory Grow accredited the modern, ethereal genre of dream pop with the early 1980s works of Cocteau Twins. 

The band pushed the boundaries of this genre and garnered a faithful following all the while. “Little Spacey,” as indicated in its title as a genre piece, did not release to deaf ears. 

The Sound of Cocteau Twins

Trying to describe the Cocteau Twins’ sound is tough. There are not many things similar to them. Not only in regards to other bands, but in music in general. Their sound carries a certain quality of dissonance that few others have attained through sound. Their music leaks a floating sensation in its space, similar to how an astronaut drinks drifting globs of water from the air. 

The Language of Cocteau Twins

Their instrumentals are, of course, reverberated and layered to emulate these feelings. Yet, their mysterious feel also rises from Elizabeth Fraser’s (lead singer of Cocteau Twins) lyrics. Although she sometimes sings in English, she also intertwines her tracks with Gaelic and gibberish. Her gibberish, if you will, pulls from parts of Gaelic, French, and English.

A sense of interconnectedness comes from this accumulation of languages that rises above conventional listening. Because the songs are so woven with many threads of language, the listener’s brain seemingly gives up its attempts to follow the lyrics’ conventional meanings. Leading the mind to simply resort to purely listening, without trying to understand. This simplification of reception sheds the more dominant part of music consumption for listeners, such as following a story or threading a meaning through a singer’s words. For Cocteau Twins, and the audience, it is all about the flow of things, like a gently rolling stream. Allowing for the poetic consumption of their sounds, further culminating into those aforementioned weightless feelings. 

Photo by Elise Bouvet on Unsplash

All in One

These previously mentioned methods and history are all on full display in Cocteau Twins’ track “Little Spacey.” It is reverberated and lyrically confusing. Which is fine, as the band uses these elements to levitate their listener from their beds and immerse them in their surreal soundscapes.

These feelings of dreaminess persist throughout the entire track. There is somewhat of an intro, but the recollection of it quickly fades for the listener, as the dominating qualities of the song take over quickly. Its sounds bounce from side to side in its mixing, creating a sedative experience for the audience. It is unpredictable, yet oddly familiar.

Photo by Hayes Potter on Unsplash

“Little Spacey” runs at three minutes and 25 seconds, however, this time parameter dissolves with how the sound blends into the listener’s mind, as well as how easy it is to repeat. Because the track holds a recurring, prominent sound through its instrumental and early sung vocals, someone could listen to this song for 15 minutes before they realized it was looping. As dreams do, we don’t really know when they end. The same is with this song. “Little Spacey” offers a floating sensation to an audience that few other songs are able to.

What song makes you feel weightless?

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