‘handmaiden-with-sun-blest-orchids-in-her- craw’ style, have been ventured. In spite of the familiar nursery-nonsense titles such as ‘Squeeze Wax’ and ‘Oil Of Angels’, there’s a perceptible maturity to the music. The thrills of inexplicable entrancement and bewitchment are still there, but so too are draughty meditations on love, loss of self identity, the wonderment of the body, and the guilt-edged sword of Liz’s part- obsessive, part-‘toxic’ adoration of Robin. Liz Fraser has almost learned to trust words.

‘The lyrics are so empowering for me, they’re so full of optimism, and joy, and . . . you know, things about being alive and exploring and having more energy.’

In truth, Four Calender Cafe isn’t quite the effervescent torrent of pop-fest you might expect. Dark shadows and spectal memories still lurk beneath the surface of ‘Essence’ and ‘Summerhead’. Irreconcilable personal differences appear to stalk the threesome wherever they go. As Fraser readily admits, ‘I’m constantly coming up against these psychological humps that I’ve got to get over.

I’m going to have to get good at being in relationships

or I’m just going to have to

forget it.’

I’m 30 now, you know, I’m going to have to make it or break it, I’m going to have to get good at being in relationships or I’m just going to have to forget it.’

Grangemouth born and fled at the age of seventeen, the public face of the Cocteau Twins is still, ‘very angry about my past’ and sees her parents rarely, while the fall-out from the band’s parting with 4AD still refuses to settle. Life with long-time partner Robin, mellowed slightly by his gradual formative bond with their daughter, is tempered by the fact they consciously ‘try to keep ourselves separate from each other’. She won’t even read the band’s press for fear that anything critical is merely a personal vendetta in disguise. Laughter and levity are in greater abundance than ever before but everything’s relative. Even suicidal Mormons probably still titter when tickled.

‘I just need to love myself the way I love Lucy. I have to have that kind of love and respect. Because there’s been this huge hole in my life which I’m always trying to fill, and that’s how I’ll fill it.’ What about the church?

‘Maybe religion will come later, but right now

We three twins: noble, Liz and Slmon

I’m still very wary of it. But there’s a lot of spirituality out there, so much, and I do want some of it. But I don’t have to get it that way. I can get it from people.’

Or rather one person in particular - four-year- old Lucy Belle. You can hear the changes wrought by the vicissitudes of motherhood in Fraser’s every frisky laugh, in her unexpected effusiveness, in the flushed infective flow as she warms to the subject of her daughter’s growing awareness of what her parents do.

‘We just made a video for ‘Evangeline’ and we were watching the finished version on the telly and Lucy comes downstairs, and she’s going (coos softly) “Ooh mummy, ooh mummy, I like your singing mummy”, saying we looked beautiful, it was a beautiful film . . . She’s so proud, I’ve never seen her react like that before to it. You know, saying it was a beautiful song. Everything’s beautiful at the moment.’

The powers of praise. Never spare the Cocteaus your plaudits, however much they might squirm with embarrassment. They need them desperately like we continue to need their records passionately. Plus ca change . . . CI Four Calendar Cafe is released by Fontana on 18 October:

The List 8-2l October I993 9