Tonight I’m finally going to see the film ‘24 Hour Party People.’ I’ve been reading and hearing about it for months, and it finally opened here in NYC last week. I’ve heard almost universally good things about the movie, and I imagine it would be hard for me not to enjoy it, given the subject matter, and the lead actor (Steve Coogan, who I enjoyed seeing and hearing in British comedy shows like ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You, The Day Today, and Coogan’s Run).

Cocteau Twins: 'Milk and Kisses' (CD; Capitol; 1996)
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Often regarded as being released when the band were past their best, this album is nevertheless kind of special to me. That's probably because I was still a huge fan of theirs at the time it came out. In fact, I had hardly heard their music until 'Heaven or Las Vegas' came out in 1990.

When "Milk and Kisses" came out, I was living in London. I went to see them play at the Royal Albert Hall. It was really a bridge period in my life, shortly before I moved to America, and shortly before I became more open-minded about music and started to listen to other stuff aside from the Smiths, New Order, Joy Division, etc... So it feels funny to listen to it now. These were the days when I eagerly bought singles as well (I recall having a nice 2 x7" set of 'rilkean heart'). The music sounds slightly melancholy, but it's still great.

The singles were 'Violane', 'Tishbite,' and 'Rilkean Heart'. I'm not that big on 'Violane' - it's a bit too desolate and rocky for my taste. 'Tishbite' is nice and simple, major chords and hammond organ sounds. It threatens to be almost too simple, but then the chorus comes in and is gloriously catchy, recalling some of the great singles they did in the past. 'Rilkean Heart' is stunning. The single version was acoustic, with just a piano accompaniment as I recall. This fully orchestrated version is just dreamily beautiful, and floats along. This is the kind of track I like to hear if I'm exhausted, hung over or upset. The atmosphere of the song is so thick that it's almost tangible.

'Half-gifts' is a nice delicate track with a waltz rhythm. The lyrics are almost discernable on this track, which is rare for the band. 'Calfskin Smack' was my favorite track when this album came out, a luxuriously slow and warm number, classic Cocteau Twins-by-numbers, but great anyway, with lovely 'la-la-la-la' harmonies near the end.

The other highlights for me are 'serpentskirt', a moody and deceptively catchy track, and 'Treasure Hiding', which has a slow, quiet buildup before exploding into a beautiful, dreamy chorus.

All in all, it's hard for me to be objective about this album, since it reminds me so strongly of a particular time in my life. I'd like to argue with those who say it's just a formulaic swansong to the band's career, but I guess they could be right. That doesn't make it any less enjoyable for me though...

1. Violaine
2. Serpentskirt
3. Tishbite
4. Half-Gifts
5. Calfskin Smack
6. Rilkean Heart
7. Ups
8. Eperdu
9. Treasure Hiding
10. Seekers Who are Lovers

Geeky note: I used to have the beautiful envelope pack limited edition CD (the lower one in the picture). I sold it for $40 to a very kind American in 1997 when I was raising money to move.

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