Written by: MIN on 31/07/2017 08:42:30

With 22 years since their last LP, expectations for British shoegaze/dream-pop band Slowdive’s fourth full-length outing were high once the band finally announced that they’d be releasing a new record in 2017. 1995’s “Pygmalion” saw the band make a change towards more ambient soundscapes than previously, and although the record was generally well-received, many fans were split and indecisive about the overall outcome. Luckily, the band’s newest, long-awaited self-titled release embraces all of the different aspects that make up the best of Slowdive and constructs one of the finest and most cohesive releases the band’s made yet. Slowdive, Shoegaze’s usually constant silver medal-recipients, prove that they’re so much more than second behind contemporary My Bloody Valentine by mostly leaving the fuzzy guitars in the back while letting the sugar-sweet melodies take over, ultimately giving more nods to Cocteau Twins than MBV.

The feedback and distortion-laden guitars are obviously still there, most prominently explicit on “Go Get It” and the “Viva La Vida”-esque melody of “Star Roving”. On the latter, the main guitar riff throttles forward like a boat working its way up-stream, just before the feedback kicks in and creates the signature suction-sound of shoegazing, which metaphorically feels like the imminent whirlpool waiting just around the corner. However, the album works best when delivering the more heartfelt, slow and sweet melodies that Slowdive has always been so good at piecing together. The album-opener “Slomo” is the perfect dream-gaze song as it slowly lulls you in with a steady drumbeat suddenly accompanied by falling guitars that sends you soaring through the dark clouds. Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell’s vocals that beautifully intertwine with each other whenever the song is most frail – Halstead’s just a touch above Goswell’s to add the perfect and well-known Slowdive-dynamics – create a perfect counterpart to the loud ringing of the guitars towards the song’s end, delivering one of this year’s most heart-wrenching moments; ”Give me your love // It’s a curious love // Give me your heart // It’s a curious thing” on repeat should be enough to leave any long-time fan satisfied.

Take-off and arrival are both key-ingredients in the making of a good album, and therefore the brilliant album-opener is of cause joined by a gorgeous album-closer. “Falling Ashes” (the song most akin to the band’s ambient “Pygmalion”-era) is a fitting title as the repetitive, sad acoustic piano arpeggios embody the image of just that. The song’s haunting backbone remains throughout the 8-minute piece that mostly features Halstead singing ”thinking about love” over and over again before finally fading away like the thawing snow of Winter. Once again, the album works best when focusing on melody over muscle; whenever Slowdive decides to make you feel, they’re at their absolute best.

Unfortunately, the album’s highlights make many of the remaining songs scattered across the record somewhat forgettable in comparison, and I still find it hard to differ between some of them after many entire listens. It’s easy to point at where the album shines, but harder to point at its flaws since there simply aren’t any actual bad songs on “Slowdive” – there are simply those that are so much better than the others, overshadowing the rest. Most bands would love to write the low-points of this album themselves, but when we’re talking about ratings this high, every song (out of eight) counts. Still, it’s worth mentioning that save for the band’s magnum opus “Souvlaki”, “Slowdive” just might be the band’s best work yet, which is quite an achievement after an almost 20 year-long hiatus. Welcome back, Slowdive – here’s to hoping that your next release won’t arrive a generation later!


Download: Slomo, Star Roving, Sugar for the Pill, Falling Ashes
For The Fans Of: Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush, Beach House
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.05.2017
Dead Oceans

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