Slowdive ‘Slowdive’ Review: reunited Brit shoegazers craft the rare comeback album that doesn’t disappoint.
Shoegaze has come back with a vengeance the past few years, with new albums from My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, and The Veldt (to name but a few). And now Slowdive return with Slowdive, their first new album in 22 years (out May 5th, 2017 on Dead Ocean Records).
Slowdive are unique veterans in the genre: unlike My Bloody Valentine who were critical darlings, the group were severely underrated, derided by critics simply for being associated with a musical trend that was falling out of fashion in the wake of Britpop. This frustration caused the band to breakup after their 1994 release Pygmalion.
But as the years went by and bands like M83 and Beach House sang their praises, Slowdive developed a cult following and a critical reappraisal, which sparked their reunion in 2014. And their new eponymous release ably proves they aren’t coasting on nostalgia and past glories.
Opening track Slomo is a sublime entry point: gossamer guitars blend with Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell’s gurgling vocals over a melody line that recalls Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.
The first single, Star Roving, is a revelation, with propulsive, windswept guitars that show a new, muscular side of the band–still emanating ethereal bliss, but at a more aggressive pace.
Pill illustrates what separates Slowdive from their peers–where other shoegaze acts obsess over distortion and feedback, Slowdive use cleaner, oceanic textures that add a layer of Goth melancholy (fitting given their name is taken from a Siouxsie and The Banshees song) to the proceedings.
Goswell takes the lead on the diffuse Everyone Knows, her cooing vocals merging with cumulus wall of sound guitars for a lush, multi-tiered result.
The album is produced by Beach House producer Chris Coady and he proves an ideal creative foil, able to dial in their signature sound without being overly slavish. Each track is crisp yet expansive, showcasing composition over sonic trickery.
No Longer Making Time begins with sparkling guitar and driving bass (courtesy of Nick Chaplin, the band’s secret weapon) before hitting a euphoric and stratospheric chorus ala their classic track When The Sun Hits–with an ebb and flow of hypnotic efficiency.
The album ends with Falling Ashes, an ambient, minor key piano driven ballad that recalls Halstead and Goswell’s alt-folk project Mojave 3. Its lovely stuff, punctuated by the repeated lyric thinking about love. It’s the perfect album closer, dreamlike and tranquil, fading out (appropriately) like an ember.
At only 8 tracks, Slowdive leaves you wanting more. But when is that a bad thing? This is as close to perfection as reunion albums get–showing a pronounced musical progression while drawing upon the sound that made fans love them in the first place.
Slowdive is somewhat of a miracle–it sounds neither dated nor an attempt to cash in on current musical trends. It simply sounds like Slowdive, in the best possible way.
Pre-order Slowdive on iTunes: