The quintet Slowdive put shoegaze on the map in Reading, England back in the ‘90s, releasing three albums before disbanding. For a while, the members pursued other musical avenues, but they reunited as Slowdive in 2014. Here we are in 2017, and they have released a new self-titled album, a mere 22 years after their last record, 1995’s Pygmalion.
This means listeners who weren’t even alive during those first Slowdive years are now being introduced to the band’s dreamy, ethereal sound. The band’s name (inspired by one of lead vocalist Neil Halstead’s dreams) perfectly defines their sound, as well as this album’s first track “Slomo.” It’s a vast and heavily instrumental soundscape, very slow and sad with ambient melodies and lots of repetition. In particular, “Don’t Know Why” and the final, eerie track “Falling Ashes” keep us hanging before finally giving way to harmonies from Halstead and Rachel Goswell.
Rather than their sound changing with the times, it’s been textured with the technologies of looping and digital mastering. But Slowdive’s sound has always been innovative. Their shoegaze has consistently been more immersive and atmospheric than the genre norm, with lots of guitar pings and heavy bass nestled inside the now-nostalgic ‘90s fuzz. And yet, it’s also very clean, romantic and experimental. It falls into place with today’s chillwave trends, or it could be dubbed “spacewave” from the dark, traveling style accented with new electronic noise and a song titled “Star Roving.”»