Fraser was known, especially in the earlier parts of the Cocteau Twins career, for using nonsensical words in her lyrics. She would open up books and dictionaries written in languages she didn't understand, and would place these in her songs. She didn't bother to learn what these words actually meant. She'd just grab ones that sounded like they'd sound good in singing.
In "Whales Tails
," for instance, the lyrics are mostly nonsense words with no rational meaning. She didn't have a systematic approach to this technique, but would simply "get a bug" (according to a 1FM interview) and compile long lists of words from sources she couldn't understand.
Fraser herself attributed this peculiar writing habit to her own "laziness" and to the fact that, for some reason she couldn't quite articulate, it helped her get over her performance anxiety. "The music and the singing and the words created the feeling," Fraser said. "I had a freedom doing this that I didn't have singing English... I just didn't have the courage to sing in English. I felt like shark bait. I felt inadequate."
Some fans and critics, however, considered it to be an artistic statement and an intrinsic part of the Cocteau Twins magic. "Fraser's anti-lyrics meant these pieces could be anything we wanted them to be; no grounding, no limits, no lowest common denominator," Chris Roberts wrote in Uncut
in November 2000. "It's truly epic stuff, all the more astonishing today in its defiance of prose and punctuation, its outsider charm, its gargantuan grace."