Bluebeard - 1994

Bluebeard Bluebeard
Three Swept
Bluebeard (acoustic version)

The title track is obviously taken from the Four-Calendar Café album. Most bands would then just fill up the single with a few uninteresting tracks. The Cocteau Twins though for a start give us an interesting acoustic version of the same song. Of the other two songs Ice-Pulse in particular is so good that many feel it should have been a single in its own right. So now you know again why you need to have the Cocteau Twins single releases as well as the albums if you truly love their music. And although the CD-single is long out of print fortunately all of its tracks are included on the Lullabies To Violaine compilation.


Not everyone was immediately pleased by the band's new musical direction, but few would argue there was anything wrong with this wonderfully dynamic track, combining a cheerful melody with decipherable lyrics.

Bluebeard in fact is special in more than one way. Not only are the lyrics easily understood, the song title, rather than presenting an exercise in decryption, also points strongly to their subject. Yes, for once did the band produce a song about that topic they always avoid yet most other song writers can hardly do without: a relationship. Even if the lyrics do not quite tell a comprehensive story they certainly contain the most clearcut chorus of the Cocteau's career:

Are you the right man for me?
Are you safe, are you my friend?
Or are you toxic for me?
Will you mistreat me or betray all my confidence?

Those lines may appear to breathe doubt and uncertainty, the melody of the song is lively and optimistic, and Liz herself sounds in great mood as well. The guitars are nice and the sound is warm and comforting. Things get more and more creative towards the end, with a nice interlude, a short acoustic part, and eventually louder guitars and vocal overdubs tumbling over each other into a jubilant finale. Definitely one of the highlights of the Four-Calendar Café album, and well worth its release on a this single-CD.

The band included an interesting acoustic version of this song as well.

Three Swept

Frequently it is not so easy to date tracks on Cocteau Twins CD-singles, but in the case of Three Swept there can be little doubt it was recorded during the same period as the Four-Calendar Café album. All the key elements from that period are included: a gentle rhythm, comprehensible lyrics, very light percussion, sparse instrumentation and finally Liz singing at just a fraction of her vocal powers.

The song's melody is pleasant rather than catching. Liz sings quite soothing, relaxed, and just as the song threatens to become a bit too predictable a nice instrumental intermezzo provides a welcome change. Right towards the end the track features a sweet and harmonious few final chords.

Three Swept is not the band's most exciting song ever, but it's still easily on a par with many tracks from Four-Calendar Café.


It was blessed with a rather mysterious and not too appealing song title. It's hidden on the rare Bluebeard EP. Oh, and you won't find it on any other official Cocteau release (well, not until Lullabies To Violaine was released over ten years later). And yet it's a jewel of beauty and elegance, a glorious effort that should list near the top of the band's performances. It's Ice-Pulse, and if you've never heard it yet you should put it right at the top of your wish list.

This track is just absolute class in every department. It has a creative intro, an equally interesting ending, great vocals, a beautiful melody - the list just goes on and on. It's light, quick, almost danceable, and weaves the most wonderful textures of vocals, overdubs and guitars. It's busy, but never loud. It's rhythmic, yet appears to have no percussion. And once you think you've heard everything you discover several wonderful guitar wails in the chorus and still more vocal effects to admire and enjoy.

The lyrics are as comprehensible as they get in Cocteau land. As can clearly be detected from the chorus we find Liz in psychology mode here:

You can't heal what you can't feel
You can't heal what you can't feel

But although these sentences suggest otherwise the mood of the song is definitely optimistic, its energy and enthusiasm as infectious as they possibly can be.

When did the band create this song? It is definitely more cheerful than most songs on Four-Calendar Café, and only a few tracks from it (perhaps Summerhead or Pur) are equally densely textured. And of course Bluebeard was released several months later as well. Ice-Pulse may therefore have been recorded after the album was completed. Their decision to omit this killer track from it would otherwise be utterly inexplicable.

Bluebeard (acoustic version)

This acoustic version starts out a bit hesitantly, and at first it's not even easy to tell after which track this version was modeled. Gradually though the song gains structure as the guitars find their rhythms. Liz mixes up miscellaneous fragments of the original lyrics and weaves in a few extremely high yells. Just when things get really comprehensive and dynamic though the song finishes rather abruptly. Still, an enjoyable and interesting effort.