Slowdive : Slowdive

Okay, I must admit that prior to Slowdive’s brand new self-titled album I hadn’t really delved into their music. Yes, I know it’s a travesty and I’m making amends right now by falling completely head over heals for them. I didn’t partake in the shoegaze punch in my younger years(with the exception of Lush’ Spooky back in high school which I adored.) I was a metal guy with Rush and Joe Satriani tendencies and once saw a kid get thrown over the stairs in 11th grade for walking around with a Chapterhouse cassette. I knew I didn’t want that to happen to me so I stayed away from the hazier, dreamier aspects of alternative music. But a funny thing happened on the way to 40 years old, I started listening to those dreamy British bands of the late 80s and early 90s. I loved the worlds they created with guitars and guitar pedals. Sure, there was some synthesizers here and there, but mostly the use of swirling guitar noise and ethereal vocals created walls of beautiful, impenetrable noise that I couldn’t get enough of. I’d listened to Slowdive’s Souvlaki on a whim once and liked it but never returned to it. It felt like there was an equal shot of ambient and dream pop tones as there was the shoegaze “haze” sound.

Well here we are in 2017 and I’m sitting here listening to Slowdive, the band’s first new album in 22 years. It’s a stunning piece of work that works its way into your psyche and you gladly let it sit there in your brain. It’s just an absolute beauty of a record.

“Slomo” opens the record on an ethereal note. The song washes over you like the Atlantic at high tide. The vocals of Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell act more as another dreamy layer of sound than a lead instrument. Like a conversation in a dream that you can’t quite recall once you wake up. Musically this track is dense and feels all-encompassing as the song fills your head. It’s exquisite. “Star Roving” sounds like that first DNA strand that begat future generations of kids staring at their Chuck Taylors as guitar pedals are engaged. Driving rhythm, spacial guitar riffing, and vocal melodies piercing through the vast sound. This is the song I want to hear when I take that first trip into space with Richard Branson, or Starlord. Whichever opportunity comes first. “Don’t Know Why” lingers in Cocteau Twins territory, which in my book is a great thing. “Sugar For The Pill” is the point where the album comes into delicate focus. The swirls of noise and haze dissipate and allow Slowdive to hone in on the magic. It’s not without moments of dreamy reflection, but here the band lay it all on the line.

Elsewhere, “Everyone Knows” sounds like a view of the world from atop the international space station with a touch of Doves Lost Souls thrown in for good measure. “Go Get It” sounds like Neil Young and Crazy Horse in space with echoes of Tears For Fears sprinkled throughout. That may sound weird but it’s really quite brilliant, trust me. The album closes on the beautifully epic “Falling Ashes”. The piano refrain puts me in mind of the piano in Radiohead’s “Daydreaming”, but slower and slightly more methodical. It slowly builds to Halstead singing “Boy, I’m the man/You’re the ghost in this town/Could this be it/Your final words, your own“. The music lopes and loops onto itself in an almost meditative state. It’s a beautiful way to end 22 years of quiet.

Slowdive is one of those rare instances when a band has two decades of radio silence then reappears just as good, if not better, than they were in their heyday. Slowdive not only capture the dream-like beauty of their early records but engage that sound with a healthy dose of age and wisdom. The result is one of the best albums of the year.

8.7 out of 10


23 thoughts on “Slowdive : Slowdive

  1. Hahahaha! I didn’t know ‘shoegazers’ were so hated back then…
    I was lucky enough to have a buddy at the local indy who would make me cassette comps of all of his UK 12’s and import releases and I got into Slowdive and early MBV, Chapterhouse…Boo Radleys etc. pretty much before ‘Shoegaze’ was even a thing ( I know I sound like a hipster but it’s true).
    I’m really happy to hear all the great reviews of this album as this band was a favorite of mine from back then, especially after the 20 years of hype leading up to that MBV release a few years ago, which was very anticlimactic imo…that album was just ok and maybe without all that back drama and lag wouldv’e been more important.
    I’m looking forward to picking this up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I may have embellished a bit on that kid getting thrown over the stairs, but anything outside of the usual top 40 or Young MC was frowned upon around here.

      You’re not a hipster, you were just in the know and lucky to have those record store guys looking out for you. That’s pretty awesome, actually. For all the pain and suffering the internet ultimately would cause, it was that one great lifeline for me to other musical worlds. Once I had it I was able to start digitally digging for analog gold, as it were.

      This new Slowdive is unbelievable. I can’t wait for you to hear it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. This is one great album, hands down. Even if it didn’t have that name on the front of the cover, I think this album would have my early vote for best of the year. Incidentally, I picked this one up at their show in Montreal last Saturday. It was a phenomenal set.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. That’s awesome. “New” band. What I thought was interesting was how many young folks that were there at their show. When I saw Ride two years ago at one of their reunion shows, it was mostly all 40-something males like myself. The Slowdive show was a completely different picture. I’m glad to see this “new” band appealing to folks that may not even have been alive their first go ’round.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds pretty excellent. I know the reformed a few years back, but I actually wasn’t aware this was out (or coming out), so cheers for the heads-up. Another one for the list… and I dare say another contender for album of the year.

    Actually reminds me that my brother had suggested that I check out Tired Of Tomorrow, due to the Slowdrive vibe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeucch! I sent my Lush collection over to a secure containment unit, somewhere in the US Midwest. I can remember walking past the line of folks waiting for a Ride gig at university and feeling superior.

    One of my wife and my best friends from those days was/is Rachel from Slowdive’s penfriend. True story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks so much for adding this article. It really helped me. I’ve been ditched by my best friend for no apparent reason (see Fr;dne&#8217is board…) and I’m having trouble finding people to hang out with at school. The only things that keep me going are the thoughts that in just two years this will all be over with, trying to stay positive, and knowing I have a few good friends outside of this…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hang in there. School will be over soon and you can make a new start. Find something you love and go head first into it. You’ll get through it. Talk to those close friends.

      Keep your head up!


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