As I am writing this for a blog named after one of Slowdive’s classic songs, this should be a rave review. And it is, to a point, though I should caution that no album is perfect, even a really great one from a venerated band that hasn’t released a record in 22 years. And that is a minor miracle, so settle in and appreciate it for what it is: a wonderful and lovely piece of work. I say brava to the members of Slowdive, and extend my appreciation for the craft that went into this, their self-titled fourth studio album. The band is touring right now in support of this album, so get out there and see them if you can. You never know how long this might last, and the chance to see a classic band is one that surely resides on every dream pop and shoegaze lover’s bucket list. I will not bore you with constant comparisons to their previous work, because what is the point really? Bands need to reinvent themselves, not coast on past creations. And since I am a lesser Slowdive fan (meaning I am not a fanatic), perhaps I view things more objectively. So let’s get to the music, shall we?
The album opens with “Slomo”, a small wonder of a tune, chock full of dreamy layers and acoustic guitar, all of it cocooning you in a gauzy haze. Shimmering and trippy, it’s a sublime example of psych pop. I love the gentle bass that carries it forward, and the way the vocals float by like a marvelous daydream. It meanders for close to seven minutes, and I daresay you will be totally blissed out by the song’s end. And may I say how much I love Rachel Goswell’s voice on here?
“Star Roving” is the first single, and it’s a strong effort. It has a solid hook at its heart, and contains all the dreamy elements you could possibly desire. Listen to it loud with a good set of headphones and you will find your head bobbing as it unfolds. “Don’t Know Why” offers up vocals from sweet-voiced Rachel and is simply gorgeous. Neil Halstead also sings here, and they both make it special.
“Sugar for the Pill” is the second single, and one of my favorite songs on the record. It has a pastoral feel, and is the perfect soundtrack for a picnic on a warm summer’s day. Dazzling and slow, it is the band at its best. “Everyone Knows” kicks up the energy and revels in a shoegaze lover’s paradise. The vocals are marvelous and the layers of guitar spin you ‘round in silken splendor. “No Longer Making Time” is another beautiful song, and feels like another single to me. Great! “Go Get It” verges on space rock, and it sure sent me straight into orbit hearing its atmospheric sonics. It is another cool favorite of mine.
“Falling Ashes” is a bit of a puzzle, and drastically different from the rest of the album. Cool piano washes over you with notes falling like rain on your soul. It shows the band experimenting with ambient music, and they do it well. Perhaps they should consider writing soundtracks, for this is what I am most reminded of. It’s a peaceful coda to a fine album from these dream pop pioneers. Highly recommended!