Published by JB on July 14, 2017
Released May 5, 2017
“I don’t remember much about it all
Just saw you loving someone else
And swallowing that bitter pill
My shabby heart was acting out
You know I don’t want no one else”
take from ‘Don’t Know Why’, Slowdive (2017)
And so goes the agony from Neil Halstead on the haunting, beautiful centerpiece ‘Don’t Know Why’, while Rachel Goswell hums below the layers of circling guitars. Is he singing about her? It’s four and a half minutes of some of the best music of 2017. Twenty-four years earlier that haunting landscape was completed in near perfection by Halstead on arguably the most recognizable shoegaze track of all time, the sublime ‘Alison’. Some bands just can’t screwup. Too much talent. Too good at songwriting. Welcome home.
Slowdive vanished nearly twenty-two years ago; disappearing without anyone really noticing. A very quiet ending to their loud, swirling beginning. But history has treated Slowdive well in those two decades, along with the era they represented. The new, self-titled album borderlines on brilliant. From the dream pop guitar glory of ‘Star Roving’ to the shoegaze revelry of the opener ‘Slomo’, it’s apparent that the band has had a few diamonds hiding in their pockets over the years. It sounds like a greatest hits compilation of everything they could have released over the years but didn’t. And it’s not because the Slowdive crew hasn’t been busy. Halstead, the band’s vocal and creative lead has released a slew of solo and Mojave 3 albums that have seen him shift from a pioneering guitar maestro into one the sparsest singer/songwriters of his generation. Thus here we are now full circle with the original Slowdive band; making an album that is a shimmering stamp on their catalog, and certainly good enough to make their Gen X fans feel young again with them.
The new album is a dark beauty of an album. ‘Go Get It’ sounds like it’s right off the cutting room floor from My Morning Jacket. The beautiful ‘No Longer Making Time’ is the type of track that separates Slowdive on the other side of the map from My Bloody Valentine. There’s simply not as much overlap between the two groups as history tries to tell us. MBV’s melodies and hooks are typically buried, and buried deep in the swath of sonics. Slowdive isn’t afraid to put those melodies on the surface, letting the guitars merely supplement the hooks, versus overwhelming them. That doesn’t imply one style is better than the other, but clearly they are different bands, and by a long shot. I’m glad we have both. I’m glad we have this new album.