Review Summary: A slightly uneven EP, but the title track more than makes up for it.
With their four on the floor beats, shimmering synths and swooning vocals, Glass Candy have made a name for themselves in the indie scene for sounding like a relic of the past; like a forgotten group of the disco and early synth pop days. This could be said for most of mad musical auteur Johnny Jewel's lineup of bands on his "Italians Do It Better" label, whether that be Chromatics, Symmetry or Desire. But where Chromatics and Symmetry often rely on a more dark and moody aesthetic and Desire on a more romanticized one, Glass Candy stand out for being a lot popper and at times quite fun. Their album "B/E/A/T/B/O/X", their first with their disco-influenced sound after many years of experimenting in different styles, is a great example of this, but it "Warm In The Winter" is their masterpiece so far.
With a glisteningly beautiful synth intro, "Warm In The Winter" gives you goosebumps right away, building layer onto layer and filling them with phasers and reverb. Before singer Ida No's vocals kicked in, I was already hooked. Little did I know it could get better.
Opening with the line, "Love's in the air" may seem like a bold and somewhat naive statement on paper, but you can feel it. The music just encapsulates you to the point that its beauty really feels like the air around you. By the time she gets to the refrain of feeling, "Crazy like a monkey, eeh eeh ooh ooh, Happy like a New Year, yeah yeah woo hop!", sang with just the right amount of conviction to not seem entirely ridiculous, it's impossible not to be enjoying yourself. It's like a pure dose of California sunshine into your veins. Like it's title suggests, it really can make you feel, "Warm In The Winter".
A spoken word bridge comes up midway through the song, in which No declares to the listener that, "[They're] beautiful, and [they] came from heaven". At this point, the song moves beyond just being fun. Glass Candy have now created a genuine emotional connection to you; you feel loved, and suddenly warm takes on a new meaning. When No follows this by asking you to, "Shout!", you really do want to, because at this point you feel like nothing can stop you. "Warm In The Winter" is just the ultimate feel good song.
"Beautiful Object" follows, and like every great b-side it isn't as immediately engaging as the single, but offers its own hidden treasures and mysteries. With a slower and mellower beat, it's matched by a simple piano chord riff and some more toned down vocals by No. I'll admit, the song isn't nearly as memorable or listenable as "Warm In The Winter", but neither is any track that Glass Candy have come out with. On its own though, it's a pretty cool, mellow song that feels more like a nighttime drive in the city than the sunny cruise down the strip that "Warm In The Winter" is, creating an interesting contrast. It's got some really terrific, retro-styled synth lines as well and Jewel's layering of instruments is just as fascinating as ever, making "Beautiful Object" a much moodier piece overall.
Side-B of the disc, assuming you have the vinyl edition like me, (I'm not sure if it's even available on CD, besides as part of the label compilation "After Dark 2" in which the two tracks are split up and lose the great day and night dynamic), is really just the instrumental versions of "Warm In The Winter" and "Beautiful Object", making this really just a glorified single. That's not too dismiss the instrumentals, which are great. Like I said, Johnny Jewel does some really cool things texturally. The piece works best though when looked at like a classic A-side and B-side which help to compliment each other and ofter a great amount of variety between just the two songs. Like the music on it, the disc is really a throwback as well, reminding us of the time when a single was in itself a major artistic statement and when it was good enough, nothing else was required. I'm not sure if this is quite good enough to be deemed a classic since "Beautiful Object" clearly lacks the power of "Warm In The Winter", but it's an excellent single nonetheless, and I'll be damned if "Warm In The Winter" isn't the most infectious, endearing and downright great single I've heard in a long time.
If you're a fan of Glass Candy or any of Johnny Jewel's other work, this EP is a must. If you're more of a casual admirer, than I'd recommend just getting the track "Warm In The Winter" as a download since, as I said, the B-side isn't really essential Glass Candy and the remaining copies of the album are somewhat expensive, being out of print as of the time this review was written (Italians Do It Better does replenish them sometimes, usually randomly and in low numbers). Either way though, you can't go wrong. "Warm In The Winter" is a masterpiece.