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Slowdive - Slowdive (Album Review)

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 Written by Graeme Marsh

When Oxford five-piece Slowdive fizzled out of existence over 20 years ago it was deemed to be for good. Seemingly having run its course, the band was dumped by their label Creation soon after the release of their third album, ‘Pygmalion’, a collection that flew in the face of label boss Alan McGee’s lobbying for a pop record.

Their demise was largely thought to be an irrelevance, particularly in the continually scathing circles of the music press, as the Blur and Oasis-powered Britpop steam train surged ahead, crushing shoegaze and more in its path.

The band’s reunion in 2014 was a typically humble affair eventually set in stone by a well-received set at Primavera Sound in Portugal. It was then that they appeared to finally accept that maybe time had healed their old wounds.

Their self-titled fourth album then started to fall into place after the band decamped to the comfortable surroundings of an old haunt: Courtyard Studios in Oxford.

Maintaining their knack of topping serene, stunning guitar soundscapes with the harmonious, intertwining vocals of Neil Halstead and Rachel Gosling, ‘Slowdive’ is certainly something very special.

The excellent lead track, Star Roving, was released to rave reviews early in January. It was a triumphant return, one that excited a lot of people with its waves of glimmering guitar noise and delicate vocals, but equally stunning is the opener here, Slomo. It’s seven minutes of beauty that gently eases itself in before settling on a shimmering, shoegaze presence and a beat that might once have belonged to Moby.

There are also nods to influential forerunners Cocteau Twins at several junctures. Don’t Know Why sounds like the Twins set to more urgent percussion, with the dreamy cut pairing the joint vocals with warmer guitar tones. Everyone Knows also kicks off with the same Robin Guthrie-like presence before adding in thick swathes of noise that wash over you like an oncoming tide.

The sea rushes forth again on No Longer Making Time, which finds a minimalist opening eventually overwhelmed, while Go Get It adds its components gradually, building from unaccompanied guitar melody, then bass, drums and jolts of electric chords before soaring synth-like sounds arrive. Album closer Falling Ashes, though, finishes by travelling down a different path entirely. Underpinned by a haunting, repetitive piano line, Nick Cave is recalled as the art of minimalism is brought to life with stunning effect during an exhilarating eight minutes.

Band reunions seem to be happening every other week these days. While some are clearly for nostalgic or financial reasons only, others show they still have much to offer. Slowdive have proved with an exceptional fourth album that they are among the most vital of the latter.

Slowdive Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows;

Fri June 02 2017 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford

Click here to compare & buy Slowdive Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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