The release of 1993's 'Four Calendar Café' followed an intense time in the history of the Cocteau Twins. First, there was the pressure of following up 'Heaven Or Las Vegas', which, for many, represented a career high in a career of career highs. Then there was the move from 4AD to Fontana; their former home and synonymous with the dreamy soundscapes the trio created. Privately as well, the relationship between Robin Guthrie and Liz Fraser had deteriorated with Guthrie reportedly suffering from drug-related problems.
Many of these factors contributed to a very different-sounding Cocteaus album. Startlingly, some of Fraser's lyrics could now be heard and the arrangements led to their most sophomore release since 1986's semi-ambient 'Victorialand'.
'Evangeline', the first single released from the album, was proof of a shift from the euphoric pop record to a slower route to dreaminess. At times this path led to the insubstantial ('Oil Of Angels', 'Essence') but 'My Truth' is a minimalist delight, 'Theft, And Wandering Around Lost' is all melancholia and loss whilst the first song 'Know Who You Are At Every Age' is shrouded in beautiful mystery and features a stunning vocal hook from Fraser. For the more overtly pop moments, solace arrives via 'Bluebeard' (the lyric "Are you the right man for me?" is about as near the Cocteaus ever conformed to the norm), 'Squeeze-Wax' and 'Summerhead'; all featuring the trusted head-spinning melodies which served them so well on previous outings. Listening to it now, 'Four Calendar Café' now seems like an ideal introduction for those a bit put off by Frazer's unique vocal techniques and although it's a polite compromise after 'Heaven Or Las Vegas', their contemporaries would still kill to sound this ethereal.