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Slowdive - Everything is Alive (Album Review)

Friday, 08 September 2023 Written by Graeme Marsh

With their impressive phoenix from the flames act on their self-titled album in 2017, Slowdive proved that they are still very much alive. Staggeringly, the shoegaze greats’ fifth record ‘Everything is Alive’ is better still. Dedicated to Rachel Goswell’s mother and Simon Scott’s father – both of whom were lost during that annus horribilis of 2020 – these songs are rich and, fittingly, heavenly.

It’s difficult to convey the beauty of lead single Kisses with words — its echoing Cocteau Twins guitars send shivers along the spine during an opening sequence that develops into a dream-heavy state of sonic majesty. 

Goswell’s vocals complement the more prevalent presence of fellow vocalist Neil Halstead, who sounds like a cross between Beloved’s Jon Marsh and the Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor in his husky hush-hush mode.

Halstead had worked on demos at home with the intent of producing “a more minimal electronic record” but, when the band reconvened, they soon slipped back into their normal guise and, while Kisses may lean towards the poppier side of their output, there’s little question as to who it is.

Accordingly, Skin in the Game is more like classic Slowdive, with a reverb-heavy sound dominating while Halstead and Goswell breathe life into the lyrics. It is pure bliss. The Slab offers five minutes of utter brilliance, not least a stunning 90 second instrumental intro that leads to some of the most captivating music the band have ever released. 

Recording this album has taken years, and with just eight tracks to enjoy, it’s no wonder that the finalised cuts are of such a high standard. Beginning in 2020 at Courtyard Studio, then to Oxfordshire, then to Lincolnshire before returning to Halstead’s Cornwall studio, the record sways beautifully, as if reflecting the journey it's taken to arrive. 

In fact, it’s only the indifferently plodding Andalucia Plays that struggles to match the greatness of its companions. On first listen, that is. But on further inspection this is the track that soars highest lyrically. “I dream like a butterfly,” becomes “you are the heart” and “you are my angel”, helping to create a perfect air of grace. By way of contrast, the largely instrumental, synth-dominated opener Shanty oozes class and is a contender for the LP’s biggest highlight.

‘Everything is Alive’ is one of those rarities in life – everything feels wonderful while you’re listening to it. It’s like falling in love, like being picked up and swept away, or finding the soundtrack that lit up the most memorable dream you ever had. Magical.

Slowdive Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon October 30 2023 - GLASGOW QMU
Tue October 31 2023 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Wed November 01 2023 - BRISTOL SWX
Fri November 03 2023 - LONDON Troxy
Sun November 05 2023 - BELFAST Mandela Hall
Mon November 06 2023 - DUBLIN National Stadium
Fri February 16 2024 - BRIGHTON Brighton Dome
Sat February 17 2024 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Sun February 18 2024 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Mon February 19 2024 - NORWICH Nick Rayns LCR, UEA
Wed February 21 2024 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Thu February 22 2024 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE NX
Fri February 23 2024 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Sat February 24 2024 - EDINBURGH Liquid Room
Mon February 26 2024 - CARDIFF University Great Hall
Tue February 27 2024 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy

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