Slowdive’s latest album – and their first in 22 years – is interesting, though oddly difficult to review. Written after reforming in 2014 for a series of festival tours, ‘Slowdive‘ is standard of the band’s style: often described as shoegaze. In fact, to an unwitting listener, there would be little hint of a 22 year gap between albums at all.
Influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd, Slowdive have drawn on their ‘dream-pop’ style since their formation in the 1980’s. Also cited as inspiration by main songwriter Halstead are ‘The Velvet Underground‘, and ‘Pixies‘. However, a possible result of the band’s break was the introduction of new influences on Halstead’s songwriting. Opening the album with ‘Slomo’ the track has a very ‘Plastic Beach’ (Gorillaz) feel about it. In particular, the bass-line is reminiscent of the virtual band’s ‘On Melancholy Hill’. There also seems to have been a delayed influence on Halstead by ‘The Stone Roses‘, with track two (‘Star Roving’) sounding like a song that should have been on the rock band’s classic self-titled 1989 album.
‘Slowdive’ contains fewer tracks than many recent albums, with just eight individual titles. Nonetheless, the album clocks in at around the standard play time at just under 50 minutes. Clearly not made for the radio, the albums shortest track is just under four and a half minutes. Nonetheless, they don’t seem to play for too long. This can most probably be attributed to the lack of lengthy instrumentals and clear song development – not always easy to achieve in this genre.
Whilst ‘Sugar for the Pill’, their early single release from the album, is probably the most notable track on the album, the closing song ‘Falling Ashes’ deserves an honorable mention. Markedly slower than the rest of the album, Falling Ashes sounds like the shoegaze band have lifted the piano from John Murphy’s ‘In the House – In a Heartbeat’ and transformed it from a film instrumental into a great alternative music track.
Slowdive fans would surely have been worried about the prospect of a disappointing comeback album (Pixies’ ‘Indie Cindy’ is probably the most recent instance of this) on the run up to release. However, the band have done a good job with their latest album. Maintaining their standard sound, but subtly incorporating influences from more recent albums, their new release reminiscent is of their work in the 90’s but manages to blend seamlessly with the current alternative music scene. A solid album, the though lacking consistency in great – rather than good – tracks, ‘Slowdive’ most probably fits the three star category.
Label: Dead Oceans
Release date: May 5, 2017
Play time: 46 mins
Standout track: Sugar for the Pill