Album Review: Slowdive – Slowdive
Slowdive’s original run in the 1990’s followed the typical indie rock narrative of the promising debut album (1991’s Just For A Day), followed by the genre-defining classic (1993’s Souvlaki), and capping it off with the polarizing and career ending third album (they were dropped by their label shortly after they released Pygmalion in 1995). Despite their brief first stint–maybe even because of it–Slowdive’s popularity and legend only grew over time. A reunion was inevitable.
And when they finally did announce a reunion tour and a subsequent comeback album, it was difficult for me not to see it as a cash grab. I was excited, but skeptical, especially considering the recent shoegaze revival–a dreamy, reverb-soaked sound that many see Slowdive as one of the defining acts of. Thankfully, Slowdive is not a cash grab; though it’s far from perfect, it faithfully holds to their past material without sounding all too familiar and incorporates new elements that don’t sound out of character.
The band pays homage to their past, with elements of Just For A Day showing up in “Slomo,” and “No Longer Making Time” and “Go Get It” exhibiting traces of Souvlaki. However, none of these songs sound as if they were pulled from the recording sessions of those albums. They revisit these sounds, but they don’t retread on them. The tempo of most of the songs is faster and more upbeat than anything Slowdive have done previously, contributing to the fresh feel to the album. But this shift in tempo is at the expense of the slow-burners; you won’t find any songs like “Dagger,” “Golden Hair,” or “Here She Comes” on here. Closing track “Falling Ashes,” a sparse, introspective 8-minute track backed primarily by a simple piano motif, is as close as the band comes to any of those songs. While not as exciting as the other tracks on the album, it’s a personal favorite because of the beauty found in its simplicity.
Upon listening to this album for the first time, I think my first impression was one of slight disappointment. I think I was expecting an album that would be a spiritual successor to Souvlaki, and was slightly bummed when it wasn’t. I could hear traces of the Slowdive I had come to know and love, but it was mixed in with elements I didn’t associate with the band. The mixing of Slowdive is much clearer than anything they’ve done in the past. While the mixing on Just For A Day muddled everything together, the instrument layers and quiet-loud dynamics of Slowdive are distinct. It was jarring at first, but with each subsequent listen, I’m able to appreciate the newer sounds more and more. An album like this one is much more satisfying than a rehash of older material. Slowdive is anything but a cash grab for the band. Slowdive is back.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Star Roving, Everyone Knows, No Longer Making Time, Falling Ashes
LEAST FAVORITE TRACKS: Sugar For The Pill