This year was always going to be a special one for myself personally in music. With The Jesus and Marychain kicking off proceedings with Damage and Joy, which, at the time I was conflicted with but have grown fond of quite recently; Ride are to release their new album Weather Diaries in June and Slowdive… Well, May the 5th was a very special day. The fourth studio album from the band marks their first eponymously titled album, and their first album in over two decades. Slowdive LP has generally (and rightfully) been received by warm reviews from critics. Except for the self-proclaimed ‘Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd’ Anthony Fantano, who perplexingly gave it a 4/10 where, incidentally, his review video has received fractionally more dislikes that likes, with people correcting him and telling him he’s wrong on this one. I am one of those people; although I won’t use this review as an opportunity to expound an argument on why I think he’s wrong. Instead, let us celebrate the wonders of this new addition to the Shoegaze genre.
When I say ‘new’, that is to say I mean ‘old’; you wouldn’t have thought the band have been on hiatus for 22 years by how seamlessly they transition into the sound that made them my favourite band of all time in the first place. For me, what has always made Slowdive the superior band to My Bloody Valentine is the emotional overtones that fly out with the heavenly chord progressions or the pitch-perfect layers of harmony. Shoegaze as a genre – when done well – is one that extracts emotion from the listener, and taps into the darker side of their conscience. That doesn’t make the listening experience depressing; it makes it cathartic – although I can understand it’ll not be for everybody. While the band’s third album Pygmalion experimented with trance-like sounds; Slowdive LP is – more or less – a revisit to the dreamy sounds of their debut and sophomore albums Just a Day and Souvlaki respectively.
Comeback albums can be a tricky affair, albeit after forming a cult following during the years of hiatus; although I can’t talk from experience, I imagine it puts the artist under pressure to deliver something special to appease the new and the old. Through the decades where the Shoegaze genre is changing with bands like DIIV making it sound like music, you listen to with your friends on a field during a sunny day, drinking bottled Heineken. If that terrible analogy is accurate, then Slowdive LP is like being lonely indoors during a rainy day drinking black coffee. It sounds like the more unpleasant out of the two, but it isn’t! I would argue that this is one of the greatest comeback triumphs I have ever heard in the most unbiased way I can be (which is hard when I have a Slowdive-inspired tattoo called Alison), and therefore:
The album masters the art of opening and closing albums. While a lot of albums tend to open with pre-released singles, Slowdive LP opens with heavenly sounding riffs and the familiar reverb-heavy vocals; it takes the time to establish itself, thus giving us time to become immersed into its floaty ambience. At the other end of the album, the dynamic changes and we are introduced to a piano melody which sounds very reminiscent to that of Radiohead’s Daydreaming, quite aptly. They were Crazy for You in Pygmalion’s appropriately titled song, and here with Falling Ashes we are merely just thinking about love. They may have mellowed in their affection for the figurative lover, but the band haven’t mellowed in their deliverance of thought-provoking whirlwinds.
The two pre-released singles Star Roving and Sugar for the Pill are brilliant additions while not overshadowing the other gems in the album. No Longer Making Time and Don’t Know Why, for example, are both beautiful tunes that easily could have become singles – and still can be. With the album only being eight tracks long; it gives you time to perfectly acquaint to the music at hand, instead of being overwhelmed by variety. Although this is one of my gripes with the album: I would have loved to have heard more. I would have loved for the band to have added a few other tracks that were slightly more experimental, drawing tangents from the criminally underrated Pygmalion album.
Slowdive LP is nothing short of a masterpiece and deserves full-well to be in the band’s soulful repertoire. The release of this album means a lot to me personally, during a time of discontent and distress. I’d recommend this album to anyone. Drawing a line from ‘The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd’: Y’all know this is just my opinion, right?