The warm party sound of Winter Gloves heats up on 'about a girl'

Daily Arts Writer
Published March 22, 2009

Winter Gloves
about a girl
Paper Bag

3.5 of 5 stars

There’s something in the water in Montreal; A substance has leaked into its icy waters, turning lucky victims into hipster musicians. Sheer odds say that, sooner or later, this phenomenon is bound to backfire, turning out lackluster copycats fallen ill from an overdose of “scene.”

But fortunately for frontman Charles F. and the rest of the lads who make up Montreal’s latest export band, Winter Gloves has escaped so harrowing a fate. Forget gloves; the band’s first studio album, about a girl, sports an energetic brand of party pop that’s warm and fuzzy enough to keep listeners nice and toasty.

Learning from their fellow Canadians, Winter Gloves pulls some inspiration from a few more established hipster bands. There is a subtle sexuality to the combination of drummer Patrick Sayers’s pulsing “umtz-ah” drum beats and Charles F.’s raspy falsetto, yet the sound is still rough around the edges and rave-able.

Winter Gloves carves out a unique sound comprised of dominating keyboard and rumbling bass. A low bass guitar grumbles throughout the album, sounding almost like white noise that actually adds depth to the dance beats supplied by the keys and drums. Charles’s lilting tenor is just edgy enough to cut through the bouncing backup, punctuating the music with plenty of perky “oh uh ohs,” “oooos” and “hey heys.”

Between his frequent “come-ons" and handclaps are surprisingly thoughtful lyrics, especially for a native French speaker writing in English. The album’s first single, “About A Girl,” presses through tense beats with confusing yet heartfelt verses like “You move and sip every drop to extract from the glass / wondering why God, this anger any way?” between bouncing verses.

The album is full of happy dance tracks, but Winter Gloves is more than just a party-maker band. While on first listen the tracks seem all too similar, a second go-through brings out the subtleties that make each melody memorable. The band lays out unique instrumentation (especially with its specialty instrument: the glockenspiel) and brooding lyrics over synthy dance beats and buzzing keyboards. It’s hipster hip-shaking music; it's pensive pop.

about a girl ends on a sweet note with one of its best tracks, “Piano 4 Hands.” It’s relatively subdued, relying heavily on lightly plunking piano and soft vocals to carry the melody, and accompanied by the occasional drum clap and xylophone flourish. The song tells the story of reigniting the spark with a love interest, using lyrics like, “I can’t recall the last time you and I had a lazy afternoon / Here we are, young lovers / put two hands on the black keys / I’ll play something that puts us back together for good.”

Whether causing frenzied chaos on the dance floor or wielding a fine glockenspiel, Winter Gloves is easy to love. It’s a band that stands up to the high standards Montreal bands are held to and, with about a girl, the band has proven its musical chops.