Violet Indiana Casino

First of all, I should warn Cocteau Twins fans that even though Violet Indiana is essentially the work of Robin Guthrie, you might want to avoid Casino. At first, things sound promising, as the delayed, dreamy guitar sound Guthrie pioneered in the Cocteau Twins still remains, although this rather sadly demonstrates that he hasn’t made any sonic advances over the years. Still, the sound of his guitar work is quite pretty, and had this been an instrumental album, it might have been at least tolerable on that level. Then comes the vocals of Siobhan De Mare; her previous work as the vocalist for Mono might have seemed to make her a good choice as a collaborator for Guthrie, but the end result on this album just doesn’t click. It’s not that her vocals are bad — much like Beth Gibbons (of Portishead), the reality is that De Mare is better suited to darker, more beat-laden mood music, not ethereal guitar pop. Admittedly, it would be unfair to expect a comparable replacement to Liz Frazer — obviously Guthrie wanted to avoid trying to create Cocteau Twins version 2.0. Still, the vocals on Casino are too harsh and too forced to complement the music appropriately. Things get worse when the distortion gets turned up a bit and they try their hand at something a bit heavier. "Bang Bang” is a glaring example of how bad this can get. All of this is a shame, since in theory this duo should be capable of creating some really good material. Unfortunately, this sounds like Guthrie’s outtakes with an unrelated vocal track overtop. Oh well, best dig out Blue Bell Knoll or Heaven or Las Vegas and forget this ever happened. (Instinct)