Sunburst And Snowblind - 1983

Sunburst And Snowblind Sugar Hiccup
From The Flagstones
Because Of Whirl-Jack

This EP accompanied the release of the Head Over Heels album. One of the tracks, Sugar Hiccup appears on the album as well, the other three were only available on this EP. On the CD-release all tracks are included on the Head Over Heels album (whereby oddly enough Sugar Hiccup is included twice). Later both Hitherto and From The Flagstones were included on the Pink Opaque album as well.

The songs breathe rather the same atmosphere as the Head Over Heels album, and one wonders why all thirteen tracks were not released as a single album in the first place.

The Sunburst And Snowblind EP was later also included in both The Box Set and the Lullabies To Violaine compilation.

Sugar Hiccup

The Cocteau Twins have never been afraid to experiment with musical styles, rhythms or patterns. Blind Dumb Deaf was an early attempt to obtain creativity from repetition, and they explored similar lines during their Head Over Heels period with Hitherto and, in particular, Sugar Hiccup.

The main musical line of the song is a fairly slow guitar rhythm, repeated throughout the entire song. The sound is pleasant, very smooth and sees the band now totally abandoning their rougher edges from the Garlands era. There are subtle variations on the main theme, which none the less totally dominates the composition from start to finish. And although the lyrics as usual are either unintelligble or appear to make little sense the phrase Sugar Hiccup can not be missed: it occurs no less than 26 times!

All this makes Sugar Hiccup easy to recognize or remember, but it also results in a track awkwardly close to monotony. The main theme is quite strong, but it can still bear only so much repetition. Oddly enough though the Twins still decided to include this very track on both the Head Over Heels album and the Sunburst And Snowblind EP.

Several months later the band delivered a livelier version during a BBC session.

From The Flagstones

One of the more straightforward songs from the Head Over Heels era, From The Flagstones has a pleasant and easily remembered melody, gentle pace, and a few special effects to put the icing on the cake.

It's not too often one can sing along easily with a Cocteau track. But From The Flagstones is a notable exception since it's of their rare efforts where Liz' lyrics can be made out really easily, even if they don't appear to make a lot of sense. Combined with its fairly simple melody this makes the song quite accessible and not too hard to recollect.

The melody of the song may not be too complicated, a few special effects spice it all up very nicely. Notice the pretty 'tinkling' sounds right at the start of the song and again in the last few seconds. In the final phases Liz appears to be supported by a large background choir - obviously produced in some electronic way.

From The Flagstones is a nice song, not too excentric in any way, but in a paradoxical way this makes it special in itself : this is about as close as the Cocteau Twins would ever come to playing a regular pop/rocksong.

The band played the song live during a BBC session and then lifted it to new heights during their Saturday night live performance.


On Hitherto a steady rhythm and a consistent background guitar provide the setting for a lively, fairly loud song. Although the melody itself is interesting, it is the vocal department that makes this song worthwile, because on Hitherto we encounter one of the finest examples of Liz's singing capabilities.

As is so often the case with the Cocteaus the lyrics of the song do not seem to have real meaning. In fact the words Hitherto and Hitherside appear to represent almost half of the lyrics, and are repeated so often that it might easily have got boring. Liz manages to sing them in so many different ways though, that the listener is safely kept from experiencing repetition too clearly. The foreground and background vocals are constantly interchanging, and so are the pitch and volume of some particularly drawn out notes. Hitherto is a perfect example of how a good song can still offer ample opportunity to deliver vocal acrobatics.

With its expressive vocals and prominent guitar Hitherto is a song that lends itself well to live performances, and so it was played both at a BBC session and in a much rawer version during a Saturday night live performance.

Because Of Whirl-Jack

What is the quickest song the Cocteau Twins ever composed? Chances are it's Because Of Whirl-Jack. Its rapidfire rhythm approaches three hundred beats per minute, much faster than almost anything you are likely to encounter.

Surprisingly though, despite it's pace Because Of Whirl-Jack is not a heavy song at all. Instead it races happily from one delightful guitar riff to the next, suitably helped by some very pleasant percussion which has a tambourine as one of its more entertaining features. There's not much else, but at this pace a song has few needs for other instruments to fill every second with something interesting.

And of course there's always the vocals to provide further beauty. Whether it has to be slow and majestic or quick and blissful, Liz always delivers. The chorus has some nice overdubs with Liz teasingly repeating Ple-e-ase won't you - ple-e-ase won't you to give the song a very catchy little singalong part to go with the infectious rhythm.

All in all Because Of Whirl-Jack is a beautiful little song, managing to sound extremely happy and optimistic. On vinyl the band mysteriously just included it on the Sunburst And Snowblind EP, but in the CD-version it is a worthy conclusion of the fantastically varied collection on Head Over Heels.