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In all, Cocteau Twins had fifteen unique singles and extended plays to accompany their eight proper studio albums. Nine of these releases are included on the first two discs of Lullabies to Violaine. The remaining seven (which would be nine, had the two versions of Tishbite and Violaine not been re-sequenced as single EPs with song overlap accounted for) make up the final two discs of the compilation.

Disc three (or disc one of Volume 2) begins with the three songs from Evangeline. By 1993, Cocteau Twins were firmly established in their sound – a band who was a genre unto themselves. This group, so unique yet recognisable, was the type of band who never opened a sentence where the phrase was spoken, “they sound like,” but would often rightly conclude it.

Evageline closes with “Summer-Blink,” which then takes us 180 degrees into the Snow EP, which contains the only two holiday songs the group ever recorded: “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman.” Here’s the thing though…these aren’t technically holiday songs. The former is a little love song set against a snowy backdrop while the latter is a bit of winter fantasy. These are songs which have been co-opted by the holiday season. Neither one mentions Christmas or any other December holiday, nor even the month of December itself. “Jingle Bells” and “Sleigh Ride” have suffered the same fate as “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

So, while it is accurate to say that Cocteau Twins never recorded any holiday music, if I am to listen to any music associated with a certain overblown December holiday, I much prefer that it features the voice of Elizabeth Fraser and the instrumentation of Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde. As an added bonus, outside of This Mortal Coil’s cover of “Song to the Siren,” these two songs are a rare opportunity to hear Fraser singing intelligible lyrics.

The period of 1993 through 1996 only contained two Cocteau Twins albums: Four Calendar Café and Milk and Kisses. There was at least one single or EP for every year of that time period. And then it was all over...Lullabies to Violaine, Garlands to Milk and Kisses.

On Cocteau Twins’ website is a much more befitting epilogue than I could ever write. Would I personally want them to get back together so I could have a chance to see a performance that I didn’t have in my youth? I honestly don’t know – reunions are a huge gamble and I know it wouldn’t be the same. You can’t go home again, lightning never strikes twice and so on and so forth…

Nearly every song sounds strangely out of time and timeless and perhaps it’s fitting that I am out of time myself in experiencing them. I was too young to be there with any real awareness when they first came out, but how I would have liked to be.

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Seth Warren

May 2017

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