Music

Oldie of The Week: ‘Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops’, Cocteau Twins (1984)

Jason Hickey

Popular culture often leads us to believe that lyrics are the beating heart of a pop song. That the singer’s words can be mined for emotional gold, and therein lies a song’s power to move an audience. I’m not about to shun lyrics altogether, rather point out that they’re a wonderful but not essential shortcut to emotion and empathy. Cocteau Twins’ 1984 stroke of genius, ‘Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops’ is all the proof anyone needs. Opening in classic post-punk style with a jangly descending guitar line, Elizabeth Fraser’s reverb-heavy soprano steals the show from the off. Fraser’s voice quivers with expressive force, dramatically melismatic such that at points it reminds you of religious ritual. It doesn’t matter for one moment that her lyrics are as nonsensical as they are indistinguishable (in some recordings Fraser even used foreign words without even knowing their meaning). A sample of her words, gloriously abstract as they are:

‘We’ll be sold when Roddy comes

Comes for pearly dewdrop’s drops

Tis the lucky lucky penny penny penny

Buys the pearly to their souls’

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