sat 06/06/2020

CD: Slowdive - Slowdive | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Slowdive - Slowdive

CD: Slowdive - Slowdive

After a 22-year gap, does shoegaze even matter?

'Tapping into a unique wellspring'

This sounds like Slowdive. That, in a sense, is all you need to know: the Reading-formed band’s first album in 22 years has all the elements that made them musical misfits during their brief career, but over the years an ever-bigger cult. The guitar chimes inherited from the Cocteau Twins, the male-female vocals of childhood friends Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell sometimes blurring into androgyny, and the fizzy, druggy textures which they absorbed from a love of techno and in turn fed back into a new generation of electronic producers… They’re all here as if nothing had happened since 1995.

That might sound like damning with faint praise but it’s not. Slowdive were much-mocked in their lifetime, because they were the absolute epitome of the anti-rock’n’roll sound of “shoegaze”  but the reason that they were so able to razz up rockists, and the reason they became ever bigger in their absence were the same: they were completely unbeholden to indie rock norms, and they carved out a sound-space that’s completely their own. Which is, in many senses, the best any musician can hope for.

So to return to the classic Slowdive sound is no small feat  because nobody else can do it. They’ve gone for the most classic, guitar-heavy, less-techno Slowdive sound here, and there’s a little more of Halstead and a little less of the pure sound of Goswell’s voice that had Melody Maker writers scouring the thesaurus for synonyms for “ethereal” than one might expect, but no matter. They got the sound right, when they could so easily have created a duff simulacrum, and they’ve woven a whole new set of memorable hooks into it, to boot. Where revivals can be overwhelmingly about sad attempts to relive the past, this one is a tapping into a unique wellspring, and that is a very wonderful thing.

@joemuggs

They were completely unbeholden to indie rock norms, and they carved out a sound-space that’s completely their own

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