After the masterpiece "Heaven or Las Vegas" (and after having a baby) the Cocteaus decided to chill out a bit, and go for a simpler sound. "Four Calendar Cafe" is largely crisply-produced guitar pop, with not as many dense layers of fuzz and vocal harmony. Liz Fraser's abstract vocalisations notably have more English words than ever on this album, even full sentences! Even though it doesn't reach the heights of "Heaven or Las Vegas", their talent for writing great tunes is still very much in evidence. On the chorus of the summery pop single "Bluebeard", Liz muses "are you the right man for me?". The "Lucy" referred to in the catchy "Squeeze-Wax" is Liz and Robin's daughter. "Summerhead" is a great tune with a sneering indie guitar riff and soaring chorus. "Pur" is a good attempt at an anthemic closing track, but it doesn't live up to the standard set three years earlier by "Frou-Frou". It's not all happy pop though, the fuzzy reverb-laden "Essence" is a reminder of their darker back catalogue. It's marred a little by a couple of drippy tracks - "Oil of Angels" and "My Truth", but this is still the Cocteaus' last great album.
December 20, 2003