2017 has been a good year for shoegaze music because two legendary British shoegaze bands returned this year with excellent new material. One of these bands is RIDE, and the other is Slowdive (Nick Chaplin – bass, Rachel Goswell – guitar and vocals, Neil Halstead – guitar and vocals, Christian Savill – guitar, Simon Scott – drums).
Slowdive’s self-titled album is perhaps the lushest, loveliest record of the year. The opener, “Slomo,” immediately seems to lift you off the ground and send you into an idyllic sky with its floating guitars and ghostly vocals about “curious love.” The band has lost nothing in the last twenty years. They only seem to have improved on everything. The title of “Star Roving” (a song about sharing love even when it seems daunting) couldn’t be more appropriate. It’s a sonic blast that burns as bright as a comet.
Goswell’s vocals on “Don’t Know Why” start subtle but then the entire song opens like a flower and becomes a stunning piece about trying to escape the memories of a lover who has moved on to someone else. “Sugar for the Pill” was the first Slowdive had released in two decades, and it immediately set the music world on fire. It’s no surprise, because the song is stunning. Slightly goth bass, echoing guitars, lush synths, and smoky vocals about not being able to live up to a lover’s expectations all mix together to produce one of the prettiest songs of 2017.
“Everyone Knows” bursts with energy, whereas the follow-up “No Longer Making Time” is like a lovely walk through a morning fog that is lifted by the sunrise. Slowdive has mastered the art of making guitars both loud and soothing. “Go Get It” is a master course on how to put together a shoegaze song: shifting levels of distortion and reverb, solid drumming, and mysterious vocals.
The album ends with “Falling Ashes” – which is little more than a rain-like piano riff, subdued guitars, and quiet vocals (often repeating the album’s theme, “Thinking about love.”), but that’s all Slowdive needs to hold you in the moment.
I know most of this review is merely I saying, “This record is gorgeous,” but that’s the best way I can put it. Parts of it sound like Slowdive stepped out of a time machine from the 1990’s, but other parts of it are rich with new energy that’s hard to describe.
“Gorgeous” is the best word that comes to mind.
Keep your mind open.
[You’d be sweet as sugar to me if you subscribed.]