Boomkat Product Review:
Ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde's 1997 debut is repackaged here with three bonus tracks - unavailable for years, it documents the Cocteau Twins' final moments.
When Raymonde started work on "Blame Someone Else" in 1996, he wasn't sure if he would be working on solo material as Cocteau Twins was still a full-time concern. His bandmates were supportive, even going so far as to perform on a few of the tracks, but by the time it was released in 1997 Cocteau Twins had disbanded - a new era had begun. It was the first album to appear on Raymonde's Bella Union label, out of print for 25 years (it took Raymonde that long to feel comfortable with the songs being out there again), it's been repackaged as "Solo Works 96-98".
Musically it sounds very much of its time - just as Cocteau Twins embraced a more polished style in their later years (as evidenced on "Four Calendar Cafe" and "Milk & Kisses"), Raymonde continues the thought. Early tracks 'It's a Family Thing' and 'Love Undone' echo the popular indie of the day, and while Raymonde's voice is strong it's easy to hear how these tracks fell just outside of the timeline. 'The Seventh Day' is stronger for approaching the late Cocteaus style more wholeheartedly (you can almost hear Liz Fraser cooing the chorus), and the band's late-era drummer Mitsuo Tate shows up on 'In My Place' and a handful more tracks.
Robin Guthrie adds his characteristic shimmer to 'Muscle and Want', while Fraser harmonizes with Raymonde on the gorgeous 'Worship Me', an undoubtable standout. The new additions are surprising: 'Summer's Blue' adds rave-inspired drum loops, 'Left Untouched the Flowers Grow' sounds like it could have come from Les Disques du Crépuscule, and 'Let Love In' rounds off the set with haunted harmonies and a barely-present pulse. Lovely.