By Allison Kridle
After a twenty-two year hiatus, Slowdive is back. Two decades seems like no time at all considering the British shoegaze group seamlessly re-entered into the indie music industry with their new self-titled LP. The last we heard from Slowdive was back in 1995 with their album Pygmalion, following their 1994 albums Just For A Day and Souvlaki. They also released three EPs in less than a year after being signed with the Creation label. Although Pygmalion featured more thickly coated ambient sounds and the band was dropped from Creation soon after it’s release, Slowdive has always exhibited atmospheric melodies and loose rhythms. The five piece has proven to withstand the test of time, continuing to master the craft of removing listeners from their current state of being/mind, inviting them to look inward and outward all in one swoop. It wouldn’t be Slowdive without deep introspection and contemplation would it?
Any Slowdive fan knows that there is hardly any empty space in the band’s music. This shoegaze quintet's echoing and blurry melodies go on for miles while vocals and rhythms always seem to sink into their neighboring sounds. Oftentimes it’s as if all of their song’s pieces morph together. The first track “Slomo” eases listener’s back into the world of Slowdive. The soft guitar and steady beat is quickly accompanied with a twinkling, tunnel-dwelling melody. Guitarists Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell slip in with their harmonizing, airy, and elusive vocals. The feedback is heavy and your ears ring. It’s classic Slowdive.
The track “Star Roving,” possesses the same oomph or punch that "Alison," one of their signature songs from Souvlaki holds. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I see “Star Roving” as a part two to “Alison.” While “Alison” tells a lot about lost innocence, “Star Roving” reclaims the childlike sensibilities and wonder. Halstead sings, “Twisting around my girl/ Nothing left to lose/ Nothing left to fight,” perhaps referring to the invincibility mindedness of youth, and then concludes with, “In a flash of time/ Said she’s feeling love for everyone tonight/ Smiling beautiful/ She says I’ll make it good for everyone tonight.” When Halstead says, “I guess she’s out there somewhere,” at the end of “Alison” I think he was referring to “Star Roving” without realizing it yet.
To close out their comeback album teeming with distortion and dense production, Slowdive does something a little different. The final and eight-minute track, “Falling Ashes,” tiptoes out of speakers, opposed to the band’s usual grand thrust of sound. A sweet piano tune is the sole agent in the first minute or so until gentle guitar riffs are faint. Halstead and Goswell progress the song forward with their shadowy vocals, “Thinking about love, thinking about love.” The song ends the same way it started, a lasting glow. Glad to have you back, Slowdive.