If you haven’t followed the enigmatic saga of the Cocteau Twins since their astonishing 1982 debut Garlands, it’s perhaps a bit hard to grasp the monumental gravity of the reality that Elizabeth Fraser actually joined Massive Attack onstage during their widely acclaimed 2019 tour – which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of their landmark 1998 album Mezzanine.
But stepping back from that particular exhilaration, the occasion of Christmas Day after such a trying, harrowing year – at home and across the globe – seems perfectly right to revisit the Cocteaus’ somewhat obscure 1993 Snow EP, for which they uncharacteristically covered a pair of very familiar holiday classics: “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman.” The latter gets a fairly and charmingly straight up treatment, considering their penchant for hallucinatory atmospherics. But it’s the update of the former that genuinely manages to decisively warm our winterized – and slightly hardened – hearts 26 years later.
Indeed, Ms. Fraser still enchants with her ethereal, but perhaps slightly-less-fantastical-than-usual vocal performance; while Robyn Guthrie and Simon Raymonde escort the snowy standard benevolently into their dreamlike aesthetic universe.
And as Elizabeth lilts, “Later on, we’ll conspire / As we dream by the fire / To face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made / Walking in a winter wonderland,” you just might let yourself believe everything is going to be okay.
A Merry Christmas to you and yours.